Imparting knowledge to UAE women about health issues

AL AIN — An American health professional, Ruth Lewis, came to the UAE in 1980 to start a sick baby nursery at the Tawam Hospital in Al Ain. But fate had other plans for her.

By Lana Mahdi

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Published: Sat 10 Jun 2006, 10:56 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:21 PM

A one-year-old boy with a major birth defect was brought to the hospital. As the facilities at the hospital were not sufficient to treat the child, Ruth thought of taking the boy to the United States for treatment. Her next concern was to find a sponsor for the child.

“The late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan gave me the opportunity to take the ill baby to the USA for care,” she told Khaleej Times.

So the next year, she left for Denver in Colorado carrying the child. The child had to undergo 35 surgeries and returned to the UAE 19 years later as a young man accompanying Ruth in 2000. He has begun working with the police, while Ruth herself works as the head nurse in the Al Ain police clinic.

In the seven years when she was away from the UAE, Ruth says she kept in touch with the country. “I had students from the UAE staying at my home while they were attending college (in the USA),” she said.

She said Al Ain City is well developed now compared with early 1980s thanks to the efforts made by the late Shaikh Zayed and the results are visible everywhere.

Ruth said she had learnt that the women in Al Ain were not getting good information about health problems and that's way she started to take classes for the community to spread knowledge and awareness along with a local nurse who spoke in Arabic for the benefit of the UAE residents.

This was also the time Ruth started to research the idea of setting up a women's health centre. “So when I saw your article published in Khaleej Times that there were Al Ain women who wanted their own ladies-only meeting place I thought that maybe you would get us together to reach I think the same goal of a place where women could meet with friends and also continue my health care mission,” she said.

Ruth has prepared a proposal for establishing a national centre of excellence in women’s health (NCEWH) to enhance the well-being and health of the Arab women and their families in the UAE through the education of women of all ages, promote the training of the professionals in women’s health issues, facilitate the coordination of services and ensure the empowerment of the women.

“The mission of the NCEWH is to provide comprehensive and integrated women’s health care to achieve its goals to improve the health and education of Arab women and UAE females in particular,” she summed up.

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