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Women’s health issues often overlooked in the Arab World

As is often the case in the Arab World many women are not part of the formal work force and, as a consequence, many of their symptoms or healthcare needs may be overlooked or missed due to their lack of access to healthcare. Hoping to overcome these issues, experts from around the world will converge at the first ever Women’s Health Programme taking place on 3 April at the Obs-Gyne Exhibition & Congress 2012.

For the second year, by combining the Arab Association of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Societies’ (AAOGS) annual meeting with the Obs-Gyne Congress, the largest ever gathering of obstetricians and gynaecologists the Middle East Region will take place from 1-3 April 2012 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre, drawing more than 100 regional and international speakers from around the world. 

As Dr. Humeira Badsha, Consultant Rheumatologist, Al Biraa Arthritis and Bone Clinic in Dubai, and Advisory Board Member of the Women’s Health Programme explains, the conference aims to address topics which are of importance to physicians based in the Middle East who take care of women's health issues.  

“Cancer and heart problems account for 4 out of 10 deaths among women in the region and as heart problems in women may not have typical presentations, they may account for 29% of deaths among women. In addition, obesity is a major problem in the region, affecting 38% of the female population,” said Dr Badsha. “By addressing the growing and unrecognized epidemic of metabolic syndrome and diabetes among women, steps can be taken to prevent this killing disease.”

The Women’s Health Programme panel also hopes to address another major cause of mortality, breast cancer and cervical cancer, which in one study accounted for 20% of deaths among women in the UAE.  

Osteoporosis and vitamin D deficiency are also two very common and highly prevalent conditions among women in the region.  “Almost all women living in this region have vitamin D deficiency due to lack of exposure to sunlight.  Depending on calcium intake, some women have more symptoms, but these can range from muscle pain and weakness, osteoporosis, to autoimmune diseases.  Unrecognized vitamin D deficiency can lead to fractures, cardiovascular problems and even cancer. Many women are unaware of this and fail to consume enough calcium,” says Dr Badsha.

Dr Badsha advises that doctors need to focus on educating their patients regarding these common and preventable conditions.  By advising their patients to eat right and lead a more active lifestyle, she feels we can prevent many diseases.  “In fact just losing 10% of your body weight can cut the risk of diabetes by more than 35%,” she added.

As Simon Page, Managing Director, Life Sciences, Informa exhibitions, explained, “Doctors such as gynaecologists, breast cancer surgeons or GPs who take care of women often have to encounter a medical query or problem from their patient from across the specialties.  The Women’s Health Programme aims at equipping physicians with a broad knowledge base on this subject.”

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