Digital health store, Dawaai.pk, recently held a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness at their office in Karachi. October being the breast cancer awareness month globally, Dawaai.pk’s fundraising event emphasized the criticality of spreading accurate information for improved health management.
The event featured talks on women’s health including a discussion on causes, symptoms, and diagnoses by breast surgeon Dr. Kausar Rehman and a motivational talk by a breast cancer survivor, Mrs. Farida Chewal. The digital health platform, Dawaai, advocates and promotes health literacy through its medical blog and social media channels.
Pakistan has the highest prevalence of breast cancer among Asian countries, with an estimated 90,000 new cases annually. 1 in every 9 women in Pakistan have a life-time risk of having breast cancer and a 2019 study found that large increases in breast cancer are expected for women in the 50-64 years age bracket.
The findings indicate that the total projected breast cancer incidence will increase from approximately 23.1% in 2020 to 60.7% in 2025. Cases of breast cancer diagnosed in younger women, aged 30–34 years, will increase from 70.7% to 130.6% between 2020 and 2025 relative to 2015.
“Health literacy is a powerful tool that enables people to make informed decisions around their lifestyles and health management, including what they eat, how much they sleep, and when they should consult a doctor, rather than rely on self-medication,” said Dawaai’s Public Relations Lead, Nida Mahmud.
Breast cancer treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, holistic medicine, and targeted therapy. The most effective targeted treatment for breast cancer, however, is Herceptin (trastuzumab) sold at PKR 130,000 per injection.
The event also underscored Pakistan’s policy of importing active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for life-saving drugs like Herceptin from India, a practice that’s being discouraged by the present government in an effort to reduce the local pharmaceutical industry’s dependence on India.
According to Pharma Bureau Executive Director, Ayesha Tammy Haq, importing APIs from countries other than India would cost Pakistan 1,000 percent higher, making it even less affordable for the average patient.
The fundraiser highlighted how poor access to affordable anticancer medicine could contribute to the spread of breast cancer in Pakistan. All donations raised were given to Pink Ribbon Pakistan to support their work on breast cancer in Pakistan.