Breaking News
March 20, 2018 - SSRIs may be more effective option for treating anxious youth, UC research shows
March 20, 2018 - Antibiotics could benefit women suffering from chronic bladder pain
March 20, 2018 - Health Highlights: March 16, 2018
March 20, 2018 - Interventional Radiology Has a Problem of ‘Unseen’ Value
March 20, 2018 - Antibodies show effectiveness for HIV prevention and promise for treatment and cure
March 20, 2018 - 50% of Australians do not brush teeth twice a day
March 20, 2018 - American Gene Technologies receives second immuno-oncology patent
March 20, 2018 - Study finds no link between long-term violent video game play and adult aggression
March 20, 2018 - Weight loss surgery widely underutilized among young patients with severe obesity
March 20, 2018 - Scientists uncover new answers to cell aging in children with rare, fatal disease
March 20, 2018 - The Pistoia Alliance Calls for Greater Life Sciences Collaboration to Build the ‘Lab of the Future’
March 20, 2018 - Morning Break: Psychopathic Thought; Americans Flout Zzz’s; Farm to Pharma
March 20, 2018 - Perceptions of old age change as we age
March 20, 2018 - New standards for public involvement in research launched across the UK
March 20, 2018 - Whole Genome Sequencing used as diagnostic solution for TB
March 20, 2018 - Researchers show how two cancer genes work together to trigger leukemia
March 20, 2018 - Scientists discover basic molecular mechanism that helps understand how ALS works
March 20, 2018 - Multi-center study to evaluate promising new intervention for upper limb dysfunction after SCI
March 20, 2018 - Researchers develop technology to program DNA for delivering cancer drugs
March 20, 2018 - Northwestern scientists bring precision medicine to rheumatoid arthritis
March 20, 2018 - Research suggests possible link between heading a soccer ball and brain imbalance
March 20, 2018 - Robocall increases diabetic retinopathy screening rates among poor minorities
March 20, 2018 - INSYS Therapeutics Initiates Phase 3 Clinical Trial of Cannabidiol (CBD) Oral Solution for Treatment of Infantile Spasms
March 20, 2018 - Little Talk Between Docs and Patients Pre-PSA Screen
March 20, 2018 - Women GPs bring remote care to rural Pakistan
March 20, 2018 - Adults skipping vaccines may miss out on effective new shingles shot
March 20, 2018 - Suppressing emotions appears to reduce negative memories
March 20, 2018 - Epidural stimulation can safely, effectively normalize blood pressure in patients with SCI
March 20, 2018 - ‘Fast track’ project shows promising results in cancer whole genome analyses
March 20, 2018 - Advanced insulin pump system can also manage type 1 diabetes in children, study shows
March 20, 2018 - Flu risk less on flights if in a window seat finds study
March 20, 2018 - Sarepta Therapeutics Announces Plan to Submit a New Drug Application (NDA) for Accelerated Approval of Golodirsen (SRP-4053) in Patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) Amenable to Skipping Exon 53
March 20, 2018 - Post-Transplant Fatty Liver Disease on the Rise
March 20, 2018 - New mutation linked to ovarian cancer can be passed down through dad
March 20, 2018 - Alex’s experiences of living with rare genetic disease
March 20, 2018 - Scotland study aims to offer precise diagnoses for people with rare genetic diseases
March 20, 2018 - Stem cell treatment may help rejuvenate ovaries, avoid effects of premature menopause
March 20, 2018 - FDA Approves Hizentra (Immune Globulin Subcutaneous [Human] 20% Liquid) for the Treatment of Patients With Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)
March 20, 2018 - Death Strikes Young in RA
March 20, 2018 - Quiescent cells also mutate
March 20, 2018 - Stem cell-derived ocular cells treat severe AMD
March 20, 2018 - Mediterranean diet appears to be good for postmenopausal women’s bones and muscles
March 20, 2018 - Scientists discover rare childhood liver cancer’s ability to metastasize to the brain
March 20, 2018 - Treating metastatic breast cancer with immunotherapy
March 20, 2018 - The 5:2 diet could have beneficial impact on important risk markers for cardiovascular disease
March 20, 2018 - Congress tackles the opioid epidemic. But how much will it help?
March 20, 2018 - Neanderthals Just Part of the Evolutionary Puzzle
March 20, 2018 - Higher Mortality With Surgery for Early NSCLC
March 20, 2018 - Researchers go skin deep to explore what causes wrinkles
March 20, 2018 - E-cigarette use linked to fat accumulation in the liver
March 20, 2018 - Fearful worms provide new clues about human anxiety
March 20, 2018 - Oral micronized progesterone may reduce hot flashes, night sweats in perimenopausal women
March 20, 2018 - Newer treatment for type 2 diabetes reduces liver fat in patients with NAFLD
March 20, 2018 - I.D. Break: PrEP Map; Faulty Flu Meds; Better Zika Test?
March 20, 2018 - Bronchial thermoplasty can improve severe asthmatic cough
March 19, 2018 - Speeding up wound healing using nanofiber dressings
March 19, 2018 - Summit Announces New Analysis Showing Ezutromid Significantly Reduced Muscle Inflammation in Phase 2 Clinical Trial in DMD
March 19, 2018 - Optimizing Sham Acupuncture: That’s Improbable!
March 19, 2018 - Women who have gestational diabetes in pregnancy are at higher risk of future health issues
March 19, 2018 - Viagra cuts colorectal cancer risk in animal model
March 19, 2018 - Vitamin B12 supplementation could postpone disease progression in Parkinson’s patients
March 19, 2018 - Study shows that omega-6 fatty acids could protect against premature death
March 19, 2018 - TherapeuticsMD Announces FDA Acceptance of New Drug Application (NDA) and Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) Date for TX-001HR
March 19, 2018 - Minorities More Sensitive To Pain? Pain Medicine News Report
March 19, 2018 - Low blood sugar poses unaddressed threat to people with type 2 diabetes
March 19, 2018 - ACEA goes live with exhaustive, searchable library of NovoCyte publications
March 19, 2018 - Consumption of low-calorie sweeteners could promote metabolic syndrome, increase diabetes risk
March 19, 2018 - Wearable medical patch shows promise for early detection of hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes
March 19, 2018 - High-energy breakfast leads to better diabetes control and weight loss
March 19, 2018 - D.C. Week: Community Health Centers Get Azar’s Love
March 19, 2018 - Younger siblings of SIDS victims have four-fold increased risk of sudden death
March 19, 2018 - Toothpaste alone does not prevent dental erosion or hypersensitivity
March 19, 2018 - Discovery aids understanding of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
March 19, 2018 - Hormone imbalance may be reason for higher diabetes rates among men with insufficient sleep
March 19, 2018 - Docs worry there’s ‘nowhere to send’ new and expectant moms with depression
March 19, 2018 - Obesity linked to increased DNA damage in breast epithelium of BRCA mutation carriers
March 19, 2018 - Heart rate increases with higher alcohol consumption
March 19, 2018 - Template produced for clinically validated DIY stethoscope
March 19, 2018 - Experts highlight nocturia as most common cause of poor night’s sleep
March 19, 2018 - Fit Middle-Aged Women May Fend Off Dementia Later

For some refugees, women’s health care is a culture shock

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Dinnertime is nearing, and the kitchen in this tidy home is buzzing. Lamyaa Manty, a 29-year-old Iraqi refugee, wears a neon-pink T-shirt and stirs a big pot of eggplant, onion, potatoes and tomatoes on the stove, a staple of Iraqi cooking called tepsi.

Spinning around with a butterfly net in her hand and dancing to Arabic music is Fatima Abdullah, an exuberant 9-year-old.

At the center of the activity is Fatima’s aunt, Salima Abdullah Khalifa, a burgundy-haired matriarch from Baghdad, who pours Pepsi into small glasses on the table.

This is a found family. Manty was Khalifa’s neighbor in Baghdad. When Manty lost her entire family, Khalifa took care of her. The two spent five years together in Jordan, waiting for their refugee applications to be processed.

Khalifa’s husband, brother and three sons were killed in Iraq, and restarting life in Buffalo, on the shores of Lake Erie, with such profound pain in her heart has been trying. Certain American customs bewilder her. When it comes to health care, Khalifa was startled to find that male doctors in the U.S. examine women and that she is supposed to get a checkup at the clinic even when she is not sick.

This KHN story also ran on The World. It can be republished for free (details).

“We don’t have primary [care] doctor in my country,” said Walaa Kadhum, a fellow refugee and Khalifa’s friend who helps translate. In Iraq, the women say, only the very sick or the very rich received medical treatment. But here in the United States, they have primary care doctors and get annual checkups.

Perhaps the most distressing of those checkups for many conservative Muslim women is a Pap smear, a screening test for cervical cancer. The test is rare in the developing world, according to global health experts, and for traditional Muslim women, like Manty, who are expected to be virgins until they marry, the invasive procedure is a profound threat.

“If she’s not a virgin, she can’t marry,” explained Kadhum. “They say, ‘This is a bad girl. We can’t marry you. Until she [is] married, nobody [touches] her.”

Manty said if she does not marry, she will never get tested for cervical cancer or have a vaginal exam. Khalifa, now 51, had her first exam at 45, when she resettled in Buffalo.

Physicians who treat refugee women say it’s not uncommon to find undiagnosed cervical cancer, sexually transmitted diseases or chronic pelvic pain.

Dr. Magda Osman, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Buffalo Medical Group who is originally from Egypt, said many of her refugee patients eventually agree to a Pap test once they understand the health benefits. But for women who still object, she tries to explain that Islam doesn’t prevent them from taking care of their health.

“A lot of cultural issues may not be religious issues but they’re so ingrained in people that they don’t know the difference,” said Osman.

The unmarried women she sees often fear a Pap test will break their hymen, which can be very problematic for a young woman if it calls her virginity into question. But it can be a strict culture — not the Quran — enforcing that idea, Osman said.

“A certain percentage of women will not bleed on the first time they’re sexually active,” she said. “But if you go to many cultures around the world, if there is no blood then that woman is ostracized. But that’s not religion.”

At the Jericho Road health clinic in Buffalo, the staff is well-versed in these cultural beliefs. Heidi Nowak, a family nurse practitioner, said she doesn’t push patients to violate their beliefs, but she will advocate for their health.

The stereotype that traditional Muslim women who cover themselves are meek is a myth, Nowak said. Her female Muslim patients are assertive and many of them have questions about sex, she said.

“Some of the young Iraqi women will come to me. They’re planning to get married in two months, and they want to be prepared, so they’ll ask me questions about it,” she said. “‘What does sex feel like? How does it work?’ Or I’ll have them come to me after and say, ‘It was terrible.'”

One of the biggest challenges serving strict Muslim refugee women, said Nowak, is their reticence — or outright refusal — to be seen by a male doctor.

Not far from the clinic, Kuresha Noor, a caseworker for Journey’s End Refugee Services, a resettlement agency, visits the home of a Somali mother and her three children who resettled in Buffalo earlier this year.

The women, covered in traditional Somali robes and headscarves called garbasaars, sit on the couch in the threadbare apartment. The caseworker and her client are both pregnant and neither woman wants any male physicians to take care of them or attend their deliveries.

Americans seem to have a hard time understanding why many conservative Muslim women have a preference for female doctors, Noor said.

“They’re not aware of it,” she said of Americans. In her culture, she said, no man except her husband can look at her. If he did, she said, it would be as if “I’m not a good wife, like I’m not respecting his rights as a man. That’s what I feel.”

Doctors in Buffalo say the prohibition against male doctors has led to some harrowing moments in the delivery room — couples who refused to consent to male obstetricians, even during an emergency.

Fatuma Abdi Noor, the newly arrived pregnant mother from Somali, said her religion does allow a male doctor to help her in an emergency.

“It’s not a sin. God knows you didn’t do it on purpose,” she said. “You won’t feel shame or sinned, because God was always there and knows what’s in your heart.”

She was in a refugee camp in Kenya with little medical care during her past pregnancies. Now, in the U.S., she welcomes prenatal checkups, even if her culture and religion collide with some health care practices.

“It gives me peace,” she said, “because I know the baby is healthy.”

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

About author