Naveed Miraj & Shahid Qureshi
Speaking at the Pakistan Foreign Office Women’s Association (PFOWA)’s annual charity bazaar, Begum Alvi revealed that nearly 44,000 women lose their lives annually due to delayed detection of breast cancer. She stressed the urgent need for increased awareness.
Begum Alvi highlighted the critical importance of early diagnoses, noting that survival rates could reach up to 98 percent if the disease is detected in its initial stages. She lamented the lack of awareness about early symptoms in Pakistan, attributing the silent spread of the disease to the absence of timely diagnoses.
Addressing the challenges faced in combating breast cancer, Begum Alvi mentioned the difficulty in reaching women in remote areas of the country. She pointed out that most cases are reported in the third or fourth stages, making treatment painful, expensive, and reducing the chances of survival. She noted the shortage of mammography, ultrasound, and screening facilities, which are either lacking or financially out of reach for many.
Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign in Pakistan
To address these issues, Begum Alvi announced a comprehensive, inclusive, and nationwide breast cancer awareness campaign. The campaign aims to reach women in remote areas and educate them about the importance of early detection. She also shared that over 140 million SMS messages on breast cancer awareness had been sent to mobile users in Pakistan this year.
In addition to breast cancer awareness, Begum Alvi highlighted initiatives related to autism, children with disabilities, and mental health. She emphasized the importance of inclusivity, dispelling misconceptions, and providing equal opportunities for persons with disabilities.
The first lady acknowledged the acute shortage of mental health facilities and trained professionals in Pakistan. She revealed efforts to connect with overseas Pakistani professionals and international experts to donate their time and expertise for training and advising people in Pakistan. Begum Alvi also noted the use of Artificial Intelligence, chatbots, and IT tools to extend mental health counseling services in the country.
Begum Alvi urged the media to continue creating awareness about these critical health issues through various platforms, including programs, talk shows, dramas, and public service messages.
The annual charity bazaar, organized by PFOWA, featured handicrafts and cuisines from around the world. Proceeds from the event will go towards the welfare of low-income staffers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The first lady congratulated members of PFOWA, the Foreign Service community, the diplomatic corps, and private organizations for their unwavering support and contributions to the success of this event.
Begum Alvi appreciated PFOWA for the significant contributions to social welfare, and said that annual charity bazaar served as a testament to their unwavering dedication.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs Syrus Sajjad Qazi said that the annual charity bazaar featured cuisines and handicrafts from different parts of the world. He said that the proceeds of the bazaar would go to the charitable activities of POFWA.
The Foreign Secretary also commended that social welfare endeavors of POFWA. Patron PFOWA Shaista Jillani said that the event was a manifestation of POFWA’s commitment to making a positive difference in society and serving the people in need.