UAE | Health

Complaints about mammogram by men on the rise

Hospitals and health centres urged to respect cultural senstivities

  • By Samihah Zaman, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 June 11, 2012
  • Gulf News

Mammograms use low-energy x-rays to screen for symptoms of breast cancer
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Mammograms use low-energy x-rays to screen for symptoms of breast cancer.

Abu Dhabi: A rising number of women undergoing mammograms have been expressing displeasure with male technicians conducting the checks at a number of health care facilities. Many women complained that they found the experience extremely disconcerting and embarrassing. The Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) strongly discourages male staff from conducting mammograms at hospitals.

A source from HAAD said the regulator was working on a law to tackle such lapses.

I visited a private hospital in the capital recently, and was shocked to find that my mammogram was scheduled to take place with a male technician

a Lebanese resident

“I visited a private hospital in the capital recently, and was shocked to find that my mammogram was scheduled to take place with a male technician,” a Lebanese resident in the capital told Gulf News.

“The whole procedure was disturbing and I only went through with it because my physician had recommended an immediate mammogram,” she added.

Mammograms use low-energy x-rays to screen for symptoms of breast cancer, a disease with the second highest mortality rate among women in the emirate of Abu Dhabi after cardiovascular disease. In 2010, 190 new cases of the disease were diagnosed.

H.H., a 24-year-old accounts executive, narrated a similar experience when she underwent tests at another medical facility last year.

“I had asked for an appointment with a female technologist at a private hospital, but was told there would be a delay of a few months. Since I was worried and wanted to check that there was no risk from a cyst that had been diagnosed, I agreed to a male technician doing the screening. It was very, very difficult,” H.H. said.

When asked why she didn’t seek an appointment at another hospital, H.H. said she had tried to get a consultation elsewhere but couldn’t get any immediate appointments at the time.

Dr Jalaa Taher, head of cancer control and prevention at the HAAD, told Gulf News that cultural sensitivities in the UAE made the whole process extremely distressing for women, especially since mammograms require intensive assessments for over ten minutes.

“Our regular audits at hospitals have revealed at least one male mammography technologist in the capital, and we have issued a warning to the concerned private hospital. And in the new edition of the HAAD standards for breast cancer screening and diagnosis, we will prohibit male technicians from performing mammograms,” she added.

The new standards are due to be released by the end of the year, after which health care facilities will be given up to a year to replace all male staff conducting mammograms with qualified female professionals.

In the meantime, women can seek mammograms at 18 health care facilities offering them in the emirate, Dr Jalaa said. “We also know that each centre has at least one or more female mammography technicians,” she added.

The official also encouraged women to contact the HAAD if they came across men performing mammograms. “If notified, we will conduct a check and ask the facility to replace the male technician at the earliest,” Dr Jalaa said.

Comments (33)

  1. Added 18:36 June 11, 2012

    I dont think gender really matters in this. I am a person who has undergone four surgeries and in the operation theatre even male attenders are also present. You can imagine how the patient will be lying on a theatre table. There are male gyneacologists and male nurses all over the world in medical field. When we attend a check up, its purely medical related and are attended by professionals. So do not feel embarrassed in such situations. And in case if you face any misbehaviour from any of these persons, you may immediately report to the hospital or clinic concerned so that necessary actions can be taken.

    Shalini, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 18:04 June 11, 2012

    I am a Muslim and don't object man to man or woman to woman nursing? Imagine one is dying then will you object them? they are professionals and only do their jobs. yes, you can preach the above title if you wish to do so, but don't tell what is right or wrong.

    Tahir, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 17:00 June 11, 2012

    Gender does matter, at least for Muslim families. In a Muslim country women should have the previlige to be dealt by same gender when it comes to privacy. Better to be practical and accept the norm. Emergency or life threatening conditions are surely the exception.

    Dr nazish, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 15:34 June 11, 2012

    This is serious issue, until unless it is an emergency, female persons should be examined by female tech..only, there are lot of Free Breast cancer Screening is happening around with Mobile Mammography unit in all the emirates people can go for it.

    Mohamed Asad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 15:18 June 11, 2012

    Here we go again! Gulfnews was it really necesary to publish personnel opinions of 1 and 2 females by risking the lifes of Millions of other females? In medicine there is no male or female, black or white, arab or western, It's only doctors and professionals or i rather say selfless professionals.

    Anonymous, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 14:40 June 11, 2012

    Personally i know lots of female radiologist and female technicians who are not quite qualified and intelligent to perform various studies so well compared to male radiologist and technicians. I had paid big price for this. In emergency i had to go for female radiology ultrasound and she was not able to pick the problem leading to faulty treatment and long admission to hospital, which was picked later on by male radiologist at other place. I want good doctor, who can treat properly. For rest of small thing any mutual practice like presence of husband / other relative during ultrasound should be enough. I strongly oppose such objections. This take us to backward ages. Be broad minded. Lets stop discrimination. Build professonalism.

    jimmy, sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 14:13 June 11, 2012

    For the Health Medical Test for Visa process I had gone to a private hospital in the Capital. The chest X-ray was done by a male attendent & there was no female attender accompanying him.

    Sam, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 14:10 June 11, 2012

    It’s not about being a Muslim or no. I don’t think any man would like his wife or sister to be touched by a man esp. for such private test. Men shouldn't be banned but female techs should be encouraged

    Abbie, DXB, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 13:58 June 11, 2012

    male staffs to male and lady staffs to ladies is always a good option. but i'm not sure how many hospitals or clinics will appoint 2 people

    anonymus, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 13:49 June 11, 2012

    why should muslim men and women not do things the way they are comfortable with? except in case of emergencies where no female help is available no muslim, asian or arab women would be comfortable in exposing themselves to other men. male doctors and medical workers too have their weakness so why should the medical field be any different. like the dress code issue, the reason many medical clinics and hospitals are overlooking this concern is because most of the women do not make any official complaints, nor do they demand what they are comfortable with. as a muslim these issues are very critical and we have to be firm and ensure that our voice is heard. protecting our values and beliefs is our responsibility. just imagine the no of women skipping screening/tests due to this issue.

    MOHAMED, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

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