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Noreen Zafar

Noreen Zafar

Girls and Women Health Initiative(GWHI)
Pakistan

Title: A demographic and socio cultural study in a group of urban Pakistani girls and women

Biography

Dr Noreen Zafar holds FRCOG from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London .She is the first Pakistani practitioner to be granted The Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training from the Joint Committee of Medical Royal Colleges, UK. Presently working as Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in Pakistan . Dr Zafar was honored with “National Women Award” for recognition of extra – ordinary services in the field of girls and women health on 4th August 2007 in Lahore.She was awarded the first International Individual Achievement John Eisenberg Award by the Joint Commission and The National Quality Forum , USA , in Oct 2009 in recognition of her extra ordinary services to the cause of girls and women's health in Pakistan. She was given the 'The Woman Of Excellence Award ' by Barclays Bank PLC in March 2011. Dr Zafar is the Founder and President of Girls & Women Health Initiative (GWHI, www.gwhi.org) , a not for profit, charitable venture, conceived to materialize the dream of empowering girls and women to take charge of their health and well being. (GWHI) is designed to reach out to the under privileged and poor population of girls and women. An important agenda is to de-myth gynaecology as a shameful topic, banned for discussions .

Abstract

Nishtar town, one of the nine towns of Lahore, consists of a population of one million. The GWHI team collected demographic (66 variables) and anthropometric (Height, weight & BMI) data. Awareness sessions are held for groups of approximately 50 women regarding sanitation, hand washing, clean food and drinking water, nutrition, gynecological issues and general health. The prevalent health issues were identified. Girls and women are largely unaware of their right for health; Women’s health is not a priority for them and their families. Huge taboos exist regarding gynecological problems and their treatment. Fatigue and depression were common even among teenaged girls. Malpractice is rampant. Large family size is a significant part of the problem and women are unaware of various reproductive health issues. Anemia is still a huge problem with 70% prevalence among girls and women. There exists no concept of health screening. Gender inequity, financial constraints and cultural barriers are common. There is significant under-utilization of Government-run health facilities at all levels. Community health workers usually received drug supplies late and out of season. GWHI proposes to reduce the underutilization of existing Government-run facilities by training of medical, paramedical and community staff in communication skills. Advocacy by affluent girls and women to help their under privileged counterparts will be a cost effective option along with a mass media campaign.