Saturday, September 30, 2023
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Raising awareness on woman’s health

Rizal Faisal

A group of third-year medical students, under the guidance and supervision of obstetrics and gynaecology specialist from the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital and a group of professor at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), discovered that the perception and understanding of women’s health, by women, is either lacking or misleading.

In response, five students from the Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah Institute of Health Sciences (PAPRSB IHS) at UBD initiated a community project to raise awareness on the importance of women’s health at all ages.

Calling themselves Towards Blooming Health (TBH), Mohammad Afiq Izzuddin bin Abdul Aziz, Hadifferas bin Jonity, On Yen Choo, Amni Fasiha binti Haji Amir Abas and Batrisyia Syahirah binti Haji Rakawih started the project supported by various organisations and companies.

The project were conducted virtually from August to October, due to the second COVID-19 wave restrictions.

The group felt that focus sessions on topics relevant to each female age group should be done to ensure they receive proper education, allowing concerns, myths and negative assumptions to be ironed out.

Taking into account limitations such as logistics and time, especially with the directives issued by the Ministry of Health (MoH), the group opted to focus on a few secondary schools.

TBH chose the particular age group due to the lack of awareness on puberty challenges among adolescents.

The group then extended its reach to the public by organising a virtual run and creating educational infographics, available on the group’s Instagram account,

On the main campaign for secondary schools, the webinar sessions were split into two lectures: for female staff, and for female students particularly from Years 7 and 8, via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

The arrangement allowed TBH to focus their sessions on female medical conditions and puberty. Participants were also encouraged to share their experiences during the sessions.

Associate Specialist at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department of RIPAS Hospital Dr Mitra Dhanaraj was also present to smooth over misconceptions.

The online sessions for students at Chung Hwa Middle School, Raja Isteri Girls High School (STPRI) and St George’s School focussed on the importance of the onset of puberty, which varies from person to person and usually begins between eight to 13, with the main sign being menarche.

“Some might find it confusing or even humiliating,” TBH said on the common reactions for an individual going through puberty.

To the medical students, puberty is a topic that desperately needs more comprehension to pave the way for assurance and acceptance of changes in oneself, consequently, reducing stress.

The student session, named ‘Teenagehood’ covered topics from puberty to self care.

The first segment explained the nature of puberty and how it occurs, the common changes that can be expected particularly on menarche or first menses, changes in body shape and weight, changes in height, changes in breast, changes in body hair and acne.

Students were also briefed on the different signs that might indicate a need for medical attention, especially surrounding menstruation.

In addition, common issues faced by adolescents such as acne problems, body odour and moodiness were elaborated.

TBH said that to tackle these, it is important to adopt self-care, particularly in maintaining personal hygiene, controlling and preventing acne, caring for intimate areas, and preparing for periods as well as its associated complications.

For the staff’s talk on female medical conditions, six common conditions affecting the female population in Brunei are urinary tract infection, menorrhagia, polycystic ovarian syndrome, breast cancer, cervical cancer and osteoporosis.

The TBH team listed out the etiology, signs and symptoms, and precautionary steps as an attempt to empower women and girls with knowledge and reassurance that the nation’s medical team will assist and support them, especially if abnormalities are encountered.

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