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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Jordan Red Cross tours J’lem women’s health clinic

Bishvilaych Photo: Courtesy Bishvilaych
Bishvilaych Photo: Courtesy Bishvilaych

Jordanian visitors tell Orthodox clinic brass that they are planning to open a similar clinic for women in the Hashemite kingdom soon.

A delegation from the Jordanian Red Cross came to Jerusalem on Wednesday to tour Bishvilaych, a nonprofit medical clinic for haredi and Modern Orthodox Jewish women in the capital’s Givat Shaul neighborhood.
Many traditionally religious women feel uncomfortable about being examined by male doctors and discussing intimate matters with them – and according to the heads of the clinic, haredi and Israeli Arab women are known to have relatively high mortality rates of breast cancer because they are hesitant to go for a mammography. Bishvilaych sees Muslim women as well as observant Jewish women.
The Jordanian visitors told Bishvilaych founder and CEO Sara Siemiatycki and medical director Dr. Diana Flescher that they were planning to open a similar clinic for women in the Hashemite kingdom soon.
At the facility – which moved some time ago from the capital’s Geula neighborhood – the head of the Jordanian team, Leila Toucan Abu al- Ouda learned how the women medical staffers daily diagnose and treat observant patients of all faiths.
The Bishvilaych heads said that one of their challenges was increasing awareness of breast cancer and other diseases among religious women, and of the need for early detection.
Siemiatycki told her guests that she was glad to be hosting them, as they and her clinic shared the problems of dealing with modesty and medical care for observant women.
“We will be happy to help you during the establishment of your center to advance the field of women’s health in the whole world,” she said.
Bishvilaych, which translates to the feminine form of “For You,” claims to be the only holistic wellness facility for religious women in Israel.
In 2008, Flescher told The Jerusalem Post that the model of the Jerusalem center “could easily serve other populations such as Arab Israeli women who have large families, tend to give their own health low priority and – for reasons of modesty – prefer women doctors to examine them and discuss intimate matters.”
She stressed then that Bishvilaych was not a replacement for the public health fund services to which every Israeli is entitled.
“We are not affiliated [with] any health fund, but our female physicians refer patients for tests and visits to specialists,” she said. The clinic offers personal attention, a holistic view of the patient and a focus on health education and disease prevention.
Siemiatycki noted in that same interview that “haredi women generally give higher priority to the needs of their husbands and many children, and put themselves at the bottom of the totem pole. As a result, breast cancer, for example, is diagnosed much later in haredi women than in their secular counterparts.”