It is not simple for Pakistani women to discuss breast cancer. Breast cancer is highly stigmatized in Pakistan, which is worrying given that it has the highest rate of breast cancer in Asia. An individual’s chances of receiving adequate treatment are hampered by their hesitation to talk about breast cancer or open up if they or their loved ones have it. Many individuals die as a result of undetected cancer. This is where the national breast cancer hotline comes in – a telephone service that allows women to talk about their illness without feeling ashamed and get access to high-quality care.
The national breast cancer helpline is operated by a digital health firm called DoctHERs and First Lady Samina Alvi. According to doctors, the first lady, a prominent supporter for raising awareness about breast cancer, making it a priority “to inaugurate a national helpline that could give immediate access to information and support.
When we spoke to the first lady, there were a few issues on which both parties agreed would be essential for establishing a trustworthy helpline. [It should provide] access to high-quality, confidential, and convenient care. A secure location where women may call in and get information that has been medically validated and presented in a culturally sensitive.
With this in mind, the national breast cancer hotline was created by First Lady Alvi in September 2020. The team understands how consumers respond to breast cancer and utilize the helpline one year later.
The opening of the breast cancer assistance hotline: FAQ
What kind of support does the helpline provide?
The dedicated helpline is open to both men and women. “Anyone who has concerns about Breast Cancer [can contact us].
- Information on breast health and cancer in general
- Referrals to local and national resources for mammograms, including hospitals, clinics, and radiation centers
- Patients, survivors, and their families may all benefit from mental health care.
- Consultants should be contacted via email, phone, or both.
- This handbook covers how to do breast self-exams.
What happens after someone makes a call to the helpline for help?
The procedure for receiving help is relatively straightforward, as long as someone phones in. “Calls are answered and triaged by care coordinators or nurses that understand the question first,” according to the DoctHERs crew. The caller is then called back by a qualified health care provider, such as a woman doctor or therapist.
“The triage process allows us to gather information and ensure that the caller is connected to the appropriate person or resource to resolve their issue correctly.”
How many calls have the help desk received since it opened?
It’s been a year since the national breast cancer hotline was launched, and it has already taken over 4,000 calls on a wide range of issues related to breast cancer. They continued, “We’ve had women call us after finding a lump and needing help with what to do next. “We’ve had families contact us looking for advice.
The hotline has also given emotional support to the friends and family of individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. “Men and women contact us after discovering that someone they know, such as a relative or friend, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. They contact us for emotional assistance.”
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For the team that runs the helpline, one of the most important aspects of their work is to de-stigmatize breast cancer by separating truth from myth. “There are a lot of misconceptions about Breast Cancer,” they explained. “Misinformation regarding who is at risk and what it means when someone in a family is diagnosed a lot
According to Dr. Komal Rizvi, the Mental Health Lead at DoctHERs, women in Pakistan have little say over their health, with 48 percent of females not having a voice in matters related to their health, and this figure rising among rural women who do not have access to good healthcare or are unable to access healthcare on their own, frequently relying on male family members for assistance.
“We see so many women who have had lumps for years that went unaddressed,” the DoctHERs staff added. “By the time they come in contact with our doctors, their condition has progressed, and the odds are stacked against them.”
After receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, many individuals face numerous social difficulties. “We’ve spoken with women who were diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and needed to have surgery right away, yet their families were hesitant to get the treatment. There’s concern that if word about a mother having breast cancer spreads, it will harm her daughter’s marriage prospects.
“There’s a lot of opposition to the subject, and we need to raise awareness among both women and men in order to address it, just like any other medical condition,” she added.
Breast cancer is curable if it is detected early enough.
Men are advised to visit their healthcare provider for routine checkups. Men between the ages of 55 and 65 must get checked by a physician at least once every year. Breast cancer is the most common female malignancy in Pakistan, accounting for nearly 22% of all cancer deaths among women. Women should be encouraged to share any symptoms they observe if they have breast cancer because diagnosis early enough can save many lives in Pakistan. “If [the illness] is detected early on, it’s treatable and has a good prognosis,” DoctHERs stated. “It’s devastating that women are still dying from breast cancer in 2021, even though the disease can be treated if discovered early on.”
“One piece of advice for Pakistani women is to get to know your body well. Develop a relationship with your body and connect with it. Keep an eye on the things that make you feel bad about your bodies and lose touch with them. Our bodies are lovely, and we need to prioritize our health and learn to appreciate and care for them.”
The national breast cancer helpline number is 0213-873-7373.