First Lady for creating awareness on socio-economic, health issues

KARACHI, Aug 28 (Alliance News): First Lady Begum Samina Alvi on Monday called for creating awareness on health and socio-economic issues, particularly the high mortality rate due to breast cancer, the neglected issue of mental health, and well-being and the rights of persons with disabilities.

She urged teachers, students, mediapersons, and health professionals to play their proactive role in that regard which would help create an equitable and inclusive society, she added.

The first lady was speaking at an Interactive Dialogue on Breast Cancer, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and Mental Health Issues, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) at Hamdard University.

Besides experts from the fields of Oncology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and faculty members and students of Hamdard University, Technical Advisor from WHO, Head of WHO- Sindh, Chancellor Hamdard University, Vice Chancellor Hamdard University, Leading Consultant Medical Oncologist, and Head of Department (HoD) of Psychiatry Dow University also attended the event.

Begum Alvi said Pakistan had a high mortality rate in the South Asian region due to breast cancer, and numerous lives could be saved by diagnosing the disease at an early stage.

She stated that breast cancer was curable, provided it was diagnosed early. Besides having a balanced and healthy lifestyle, women must adopt the habit of a five-minute self-examination every month to detect the disease at early stages and seek medical help if they notice any lump or unusual change in their bodies, she added.

She said she had been raising awareness about breast cancer since 2018 and due to the efforts of her team and support from the media, more women with breast cancer were being diagnosed at early stages.

As regards mental health and well-being, Begum Alvi said the topic of mental health and stress was often neglected in Pakistan due to its social stigma. “The people neglect their mental health and do not seek professional advice,” she added.

There was also a shortage of mental health professionals in Pakistan, she said, adding overseas Pakistanis were keen to help improve mental health services in Pakistan through their professional expertise, besides offering online training and counselling services.

She said the people should not feel shy to seek professional help in case of stress, depression or other mental health issues.

Highlighting the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), Begum Alvi called for bringing behavioral change in the society towards them, equipping them with education and skills, and including them in mainstream socio-economic activities.

She called upon the business community to give jobs to PWDs as per their skills and abilities, besides fulfilling the job quota in the government and private sector as per relevant laws.

She said that steps should be taken to remove the barriers towards the financial and social inclusion of PWDs to make them productive and equal members of society.

Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization, Maryam Malik, briefed the participants about Begum Samina Alvi’s journey of advocacy for Breast Cancer Awareness, Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and Mental, which was started five years ago.

During the interactive session, participants highlighted various problems being faced by PWDs and the need to create an inclusive society. They also appreciated the First Lady for creating awareness on a national level about important social and health issues.

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