Health forum addresses women's issues in Egypt

Ingy Deif, Monday 18 Nov 2013

Awareness promotion was the main message of the Saturday women's health forum, organised by Egypt's LHA and ESWIH

Women Health Forum

On 16 November, the Ladies Health Alliance (LHA) and the Egyptian Society of Women's Imaging and Health Care (ESWIH) held a women's health forum intended to highlight women-related health problems, raise awareness of the importance of checkups, and discuss the latest medical breakthroughs.

According to the Egyptian health ministry, breast cancer now accounts for 37 percent of total cancer cases in Egypt. Some seven million Egyptians have diabetes. Ten percent carry Hepatitis C, and 26 percent suffer from high blood pressure.

Based on these numbers, it is clear that the establishment of public health awareness campaigns is of urgent importance. Given the number of attendees at Saturday's women's health forum, Egyptians agree.

For Dr Madiha Khattab, former dean of Cairo University's Faculty of Medicine and a LHA board member, awareness is key. "We want to tell women that there is no reason to fear consultations and early check-ups; it can save your life," she said.

According to Dr Khattab, the average life expectancy for women in Egypt is 71 years, compared to 68 years for men. These averages fall significantly behind those of other developed countries. To close that gap, Dr Khattab calls for regular checkups for diabetes, bone density, blood pressure and certain kinds of detectable cancers.

Dr Ashraf Selim, head of Cairo University's Women's Imaging Unit, told Ahram Online that although the forum addressed middle-to-upper-class Egyptian women, the goal is to expand outreach to all classes of society. Upcoming events will target a broader audience, stressing that the time has come to prioritise women's health awareness in Egypt.

The forum tackled everything from lifestyle, nutrition, the latest laser treatments, osteoporosis, and gynecology.

However, the forum's highlight was its discussion of breast cancer. "90 percent of breast cancer cases are curable if detected at an early stage," stated Dr Selim. He added that diverse screening programs will target not only breast cancer but other cancers as well, which is a main objective of LHA.

Dr Selim shared recent advances in breast cancer diagnosis, emphasising that the new biopsy technologies can detect abnormalities with minimal discomfort and without leaving scars.

According to Dr Norran Hussein, a breast imaging consultant at the National Breast Screening Program, new techniques such as mammograms with contrast are now available in Egypt, providing far more accurate results.

Dr Rehab Sobhi, an assistant professor of dermatology at Cairo University and LHA's resident dermatologist, shared the latest in dermatology treatments. He pointed out new advances in laser technology that allow wrinkle, hair, and scar removal without going under the knife.

Experts also stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy weight with the right nutrition plan, as well as routine gynecological check-ups and osteoporosis prevention through regular DXA scans.

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