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Doctors say embarrassment puts women at risk

Women are neglecting their health because of fear and embarrassment, doctors warned yesterday.

ABU DHABI // Women are neglecting their health because of fear and embarrassment, doctors warned yesterday. "Women are becoming more involved in decision-making when it comes to their families ... [but] now women need to become better educated about matters that concern their health and the health of 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.

For instance, some women may feel to ashamed to get a cervical smear, which can detect deadly cervical cancer, or admit to feeling anxious or depressed. Dr Amira el Sayed, the consultant family doctor and chair of the women's health committee at SKMC, said no Emirati woman "would ever come into the clinic and ask for a pap smear like a western patient would do". Dr Haifa al Nehdi, a family doctor, said most women were 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. @Email:hkhalaf@thenational.ae

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