February 09, 2018

"I have trained more than 2000 females in one year about being aware of breast cancer"

Nadia has also been helping school students with advice about careers in health sciences

Nadia Bibi Sarwar

Global Youth Ambassador from Pakistan

For International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, we asked our Global Youth Ambassadors to share their stories.

When I was just a sixth grader my father faced a financial crisis which meant my educational expenses could no longer be paid for. 

I was faced with two very different roads. One road would result in my sitting at home, waiting to be married, and the second road was unknown and required me to take control of my own destiny. 

I have always tried to make lemonade when life throws me lemons and, with this in my mind, I chose the second.

I started working as a content writer, which supported my education financially. This resulted in my successful enrolment into medical school.

During my studies I was alarmed to learn that Pakistan has the highest incidence of breast cancer across Asia and accounts for 38.5% of all cancers in women. There are a staggering 90,000 new cases every year and as many as 40,000 deaths. 

Breast cancer awareness in Pakistan is abysmally low. Women in other countries have long been persuaded by their governments to conduct a simple self-check of their own breasts every month. 

No medical experience or training is necessary and every woman is able to check her own body for lumps and bumps or any other irregularity in the breasts. 

In places where there is a culture of early examination and diagnosis, the chances of surviving breast cancer are as high as 90%.

Nadia gives advice on breast cancer awareness in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province

The lack of awareness and diagnosis of breast cancer led me to start an individual campaign called Breast Cancer Awareness in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

I conducted different seminars in different institutions of Peshawar to create awareness about this fatal disease in females of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

My main objective was to visit different colleges and schools to draw attention to the importance of physical self-examination. I aimed for these youngsters to be able to deliver these teachings to their mothers, sisters and other female members of their families. 

I have trained more than 2000 females about the awareness of this disease in one year. During this year, four females were diagnosed with the disease and were treated in time. 

My future goals are to spread awareness across the whole country, especially in rural areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, and let every woman be part of this campaign. 

My plan is to conduct seminars annually to teach men that they should send their women to doctors on time. We all have to fight for this together.

As an Education Youth Ambassador for Idara-E-Taleem-O-Aagahi, an education charity in Pakistan, I have also been working on community outreach projects since September, in which I - along with fellow students - provide career counselling for grade 9 and 10 students.

Read our other stories for International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Creating a powerful generation of STEM women in Kenya

Research into post-injection disability in Uganda

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