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Doctors say shame puts women at risk

Doctors say women should be encouraged to overcome feelings of shame that deter them from getting a cervical smear, or admitting to anxiety or depression.

ABU DHABI // Fear and embarrassment are causing women to neglect their health, doctors said yesterday. To protect themselves, women should be encouraged to overcome feelings of shame that deter them from getting a cervical smear, or admitting to anxiety or depression. "Women are becoming more involved in decision-making when it comes to their families," said Dr Tej Maini, the chief executive of Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), which organised a symposium at the General Women's Union in the capital. Now, he said, "women need to become better educated about matters that concern their health and the health of their families." Dr Amira el Sayed, the consultant family doctor and chair of the women's health committee at SKMC, said Emirati women were reluctant to be tested. "No patient here would ever come into the clinic and ask for a pap smear like a western patient would do," she said. Dr Haifa al Nehdi, a family doctor, said women are also unwilling to address psychological problems. "We say it indirectly to patients by exploring all possibilities and slowing the delivery of the message, so as not to scare them off," she said. She added that women needed to know there was no shame in suffering from depression, anxiety or stress. hkhalaf@thenational.ae

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