Belgian women not getting checked for breast cancer

The numbers of immigrant women between the ages of 50-69 getting checked for breast cancer are not meeting the ideal numbers of check-ups. Since 2001, the Flemish government has been encouraging women in this age bracket to get a bi-annual mammography for free, but the agency for Care and Health shows that only about 35% of women between 50-69 have screened themselves after the campaign was launched. According to Moroccan-Belgian family doctor Zouhair Elarbi, there are several reasons that immigrant women are particularly not meeting the recommended checks; for many immigrants, cancer is synonymous with death and being incurable. In addition, baring a breast in front of male caretakers is uncomfortable, even in issues of health. Elarbi suggests that since both men and women frequent mosques in Belgium, that the mosque may be a forum for making sure that women are reminded, encouraged to be screened, and that the imam should play a role in reinforcing that this an important issue for women.

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