First Lady Begum Samina Alvi on Wednesday urged the relevant officials authorities, media, civil society, health institutions and welfare organizations to organize awareness campaigns to ensure basic rights of the persons with disabilities. She also called upon the government institutions to increase facilities to address the social and health issues being faced by the special persons, besides improving the primary healthcare system. “I also appeal to people from all walks of life to work collectively for safeguarding the rights of differently-abled persons and their welfare, and ensuring a healthier, comprehensive and equality-based society,” the first lady said in a message. She said the persons with disabilities, who accounted for around 10 to 12% of the country’s population, were facing difficulties to live a normal life and move around easily. However, now people were more aware about their problems and that was because of the campaign conducted through seminars, conferences, walks and ceremonies, and messages sent to millions of mobile phone consumers, she added. Similarly, she said, the welfare organizations and hospitals had also extended facilities to them. She appreciated the role of electronic media, newspapers, social media, NGOs and civil society that supported their efforts in creating public awareness about the health issues. She regretted that the persons with disabilities were facing multiple barriers in their access to health, education and employment opportunities. “We have to make them financially empowered by providing skilled-based education and health facilities,” she added. Samina Alvi said an ignored segment of society were the people suffering from psychological issues, who hesitated to talk about their problems or go to a psychiatrist for treatment because of ‘social stigma’. Around 24% of the country’s population was suffering from various psychological issues, she added. The first lady also asked the women to spare five minutes every month for self-examination for early detection of breast cancer. A number of women died in Pakistan every year due to breast cancer, she added.