Women, it is time to prioritize our health: Commemorating International Women’s Day at Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 18th March 2024 – Across the globe, 8th of March is universally acknowledged as International Women’s Day (IWD). This day serves as a platform to honour the accomplishments of women and to rally society towards the advancement of women’s equality.  The 2024 theme, “Inspire Inclusion,” underscores the imperative to eradicate bias, stereotypes, and discrimination from all facets of society.

Gender equality and women’s health are key priorities within the Aga Khan Health Service, Tanzania (AKHST); as of January 2024, around 52% of the staff within AKHST are female. At the Aga Khan Hospital, Dar es Salaam (AKH, D), we intermittently offer discounts on breast and cervical cancer screenings, thus improving access to care. Additionally, AKHST organizes mobile clinics around Tanzania to provide these screenings to women living in remote areas. Furthermore, we partnered with Reconstructing Women International (RWI) and Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), to conduct free plastic reconstructive surgeries for women and girls who have suffered from major burns and are victims of gender-based violence. Most recently, AKHST partnered with WOMEN TAPO, a community-based organization addressing financial and social issues amongst women in Dar es Salaam. At their IWD event, AKHST provided women entrepreneurs with free health education and screenings for breast and cervical cancer, blood pressure measurements, and COVID-19 vaccinations.

According to the United Nations (UN), gender norms significantly influence the health challenges faced uniquely by women, however their lived experiences are often excluded from medical studies. Thus, specialists from AKH, D, are now shedding light on the most common health issues amongst their female patients and offering advice to improve quality of life.

Dr. Lynn Moshi, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, highlighted prevalent concerns among her patients, including cervical, breast and ovarian cancer, as well as infertility. It is important for women to remain vigilant, be aware of any abnormalities, and undergo early screening for gynaecological cancers. Additionally, promoting a holistic approach to women’s health, women should incorporate healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and positive mental health practices to maintain hormonal balance and mitigate potential fertility challenges.

Furthermore, many women lack education about family planning and often rely on misinformation and myths regarding contraception. To address this, women should visit a family planning specialist before conception, to ensure their own well-being is sufficient for starting a family.

Dr. Mariam Noorani, Head of Paediatrics, noted that many mothers experience breastfeeding challenges, as well as mental distress from caring for their children since society tends to designate mothers as the primary caregiver. Moreover, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis are two mental health concerns unique to women. Thus, mothers are encouraged to maintain a good nutrition status to ensure healthy lactation periods, prioritize their mental health as much as physical health, and seek help when needed.

Regarding heart health, coronary artery disease and arrythmia are common issues amongst female patients. To prevent these, women are advised to avoid hormonal therapy as birth control and maintain a healthy diet, exercise, reduce stress, quit alcohol, and obtain proper sleep.

Overall, early prevention is better than a cure, and that when a woman is healthy, the benefits ripple down through her family and into society. Furthermore, enhancing women’s health and enabling their active involvement in society can contribute significantly to the realization of Sustainable Development Goal 5, “Gender Equality,” as defined by the UN.

About Aga Khan Health Services:

Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) is one of three agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) that supports activities in health care, together with the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and the Aga Khan University (AKU). Working to address today’s greatest health challenges in low-and-middle-income countries, the three agencies of the AKDN provide high-quality, equitable healthcare to over eight million people annually and work closely on planning, training, and resource development. Operating under the Aga Khan Development Network, Aga Khan Health Service in Tanzania has experienced substantial growth over a span of nine decades, serving as a compelling testament to our dedication to healthcare and development within the nation.  Presently, AKHS facilities are renowned for their adherence to ethical standards, innovative approaches, and the delivery of top-notch, safe and evidence-based healthcare services. Our hub and spokes model, with one hospital here in Dar es Salaam, a medical centre in Mwanza and 26 outreach centres across 14 regions of the country, has enabled our institutions to increase access to affordable quality health services, as well as to work closely with the government and other partners across the health spectrum.


Media contacts:

Davies W. Nyari
+255 688 263 695

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