October is the pink ribbon month. It is celebrated every year as the month for spreading awareness about breast cancer, most of the development professional’s start wearing pink ribbons. News casters on the TV channels start wearing pink, even the display picture on Facebook are adapted in the pink ribbon frame. Big building decorated in pink ribbons, fancy pamphlets and brochures at the signals and some sizzling talks at the television screen, that’s what I see in the month of October. But why are these efforts not being paid off? Does the woman who is essentially suffering from this deadly disease in a remote area recognizes that there is a month for the fatal sickness and she can be healed? Do the family of the victim knows that they can talk about the disease and there is no indignity in it?
The need to write on this topic came to me when I was reading an article on the pink ribbon campaign in Pakistan. Statistics of PINK ribbon, leading NGO for breast cancer awareness, says that “every year about 90,000 women are diagnosed with the disease and some 40,000 lose their lives to it; Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer occurrence in Asia; one in nine woman is at the risk of contracting it, whereas in India one in every 22 gets it”. The irony to this brutal fact is that the figure is under-reported, because talking about breast cancer is a taboo in most of the under developing countries including Pakistan. The Aga Khan University Breast Section-Department of Surgery statistics says that in Pakistan the average age of woman to get breast cancer is 40, while in the western world it is 50.
These statistics are actually the ones which are actually reported in the hospitals and the ones who get treatment. What about the cases who don’t get treatment, what is the statistic of them and how many women lose their precious breathes to this so called fatal taboo.
My question to the awareness campaign and the leading organizations working for the cause is, is the ornamental ribbon really helpful. How effective is the awareness campaign? To what degree has the risk of breast cancer been minimized? How many actual people who are suffering do we reach and how many do we prevent. Why are we failing to reach the targeted audience, does wearing a pink ribbon on a fancy designer suit makes the difference.