Breaking News
October 18, 2018 - FDA Approves Talzenna (talazoparib) for gBRCAm HER2-Negative Locally Advanced or Metastatic Breast Cancer
October 18, 2018 - Many U.S. adults confused about primary care, study shows
October 18, 2018 - With philanthropic gifts, Stanford poised to make major advances in neurosciences | News Center
October 18, 2018 - Researchers discover why heart contractions are weaker in individuals with HCM
October 18, 2018 - Participation in organized sport during childhood may have long-term skeletal benefits
October 18, 2018 - Probiotic/antibiotic combination could eradicate drug-resistant bacteria
October 17, 2018 - More Socioeconomic Challenges for Hispanic Women With HIV
October 17, 2018 - 49,XXXXY syndrome – Genetics Home Reference
October 17, 2018 - Scientists uncover possible new causes of Tourette syndrome
October 17, 2018 - Girl undergoes unusual heart surgery after compassionate-use exemption | News Center
October 17, 2018 - Health Issues That Are Sometimes Mistaken for Gluten Sensitivity
October 17, 2018 - Elective induction of labor at 39 weeks may be beneficial option for women and their babies
October 17, 2018 - New smart watch algorithms can accurately monitor wearers’ sleep patterns
October 17, 2018 - Researchers demonstrate epigenetic memory transmission via sperm
October 17, 2018 - FDA, DHS announce memorandum of agreement to address cybersecurity in medical devices
October 17, 2018 - Health Tip: Know the Risks of Chicken Pox
October 17, 2018 - Immunotherapy effective against hereditary melanoma
October 17, 2018 - Researchers reveal new mechanism for how animal cells stay intact | News Center
October 17, 2018 - Alzheimer's Goes Under the Cryo-Electron Microscope
October 17, 2018 - Medicare for all? CMS chief warns program has enough problems already
October 17, 2018 - Metrohm Raman introduces Mira P handheld Raman system
October 17, 2018 - Expanding the knowledge about hippocampus to better understand cognitive deficits in MS
October 17, 2018 - Study of Nigerian breast cancer patients reveals prevalence of aggressive molecular features
October 17, 2018 - Many healthy children may have metabolic risk factors, finds study
October 17, 2018 - A new antibiotic could be a better, faster treatment for tuberculosis
October 17, 2018 - “I will not become a Robot Doctor”: A medical student vows to practice compassion
October 17, 2018 - Study findings may explain sporadic outbreaks of C. difficile infections in hospitals
October 17, 2018 - Purdue researchers develop new chemical process to find better drug ‘fits’ for patients
October 17, 2018 - Yale researchers develop way to attack RNA with small-molecule drugs
October 17, 2018 - New pragmatic study launched to understand the effectiveness of new type 2 diabetes drug
October 17, 2018 - Alnylam Announces Plan to Initiate Rolling Submission of a New Drug Application and Pursue Full Approval for Givosiran
October 17, 2018 - Nine cases of polio-like illness suspected in children in illinois
October 17, 2018 - Eisai enters into agreement with Eurofarma for development and sales of lorcaserin in 17 countries
October 17, 2018 - Patients once thought incurable can benefit from high-dose radiation therapy
October 17, 2018 - Researchers awarded grant to advance testing of experimental heroin vaccine
October 17, 2018 - Researchers examine SSRI use during pregnancy and major gestational malformations
October 17, 2018 - FDA grants Rare Pediatric Disease Designation for Immusoft’s Iduronicrin genleukocel-T
October 17, 2018 - Reliable Respiratory announces acquisition of Attleboro Area Medical Equipment
October 17, 2018 - Study reveals link between childhood abuse and higher arthritis risk in adulthood
October 17, 2018 - Research shows people over 65 are not performing enough physical activity
October 17, 2018 - FDA Approves Liletta (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) 52 mg to Prevent Pregnancy for up to Five Years
October 17, 2018 - Weight gain after smoking cessation linked to increased short-term diabetes risk
October 17, 2018 - Researchers find opportunity to control salt-sensitive hypertension without exercising
October 17, 2018 - Women not warned about cancer associated with breast implants
October 17, 2018 - Metrohm offers robust handheld Raman analyzer for Defense and Security
October 17, 2018 - Modeling Non-Numerical Data in Systems Biology
October 17, 2018 - Research aims to address health disparities in African-American men
October 17, 2018 - Human and cattle decoys trap outdoor-biting mosquitoes in malaria endemic regions
October 17, 2018 - High Circulating Prolactin Level Inversely Linked to T2DM Risk
October 17, 2018 - Study finds gene variant predisposes people to both Type 2 diabetes and low body weight
October 17, 2018 - Metrohm software products make it easy to comply with ALOCA and ALCOA+ guidelines
October 17, 2018 - Network of doctors identify the cause of 31 new conditions
October 17, 2018 - Notable improvement in brain cancer survival among younger patients but not much for elderly
October 17, 2018 - Scientists shed light on roles of transcription factors, TP63 and SOX2, in squamous cell carcinoma
October 17, 2018 - Costs of Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program may be higher than expected reimbursement
October 17, 2018 - Misuse of prescription opioids or benzodiazepines associated with suicidal thoughts
October 17, 2018 - New research seeks to address sex disparities in women’s health
October 17, 2018 - C-Section Rates Have Nearly Doubled Since 2000: Study
October 17, 2018 - Talking to Your Kids About STDs
October 17, 2018 - New classification of periodontal and peri-implant diseases and conditions
October 17, 2018 - Herbert D. Kleber, Pioneer in Addiction Treatment, Dies at 84
October 17, 2018 - Health effects of smoke-filled atmosphere
October 17, 2018 - Down syndrome may hold important clues to onset of Alzheimer’s disease
October 17, 2018 - A special report on US’ aging societies
October 17, 2018 - Birth mode may have acute effects on neurodevelopment, study suggests
October 17, 2018 - Global health innovation system fails to deliver affordable treatments to patients, says report
October 17, 2018 - Simple, inexpensive test quickly detects antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’
October 17, 2018 - New drugs could reduce risk of heart disease when added to statins
October 17, 2018 - Visible and valued: Stanford Medicine’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Forum
October 17, 2018 - HVP vaccination not linked with rise in teen risky sex
October 17, 2018 - Potential ‘early warning markers’ for sepsis discovered
October 17, 2018 - Who knew? Life begins (again) at 65
October 17, 2018 - Application of blood pressure guidelines ups treatment
October 17, 2018 - Stanford researchers find that small molecule may help treat enzyme deficiency
October 17, 2018 - Speed Cameras Save Money and Lives in New York City
October 17, 2018 - Men who conform to ‘the man box’ more likely to consider suicide and violence
October 17, 2018 - Researchers aim to create more authentic organoids for drug testing, transplantation
October 16, 2018 - New blood test for pediatric brain tumor patients offers safer approach than surgical biopsies
October 16, 2018 - Age-related estrogen increase may be the culprit behind inguinal hernias in men
October 16, 2018 - Skills-Based Intervention Did Not Cut Systolic BP After Stroke, TIA

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 kaiserhealthnews.org 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