Newlands Clinic focusing on women

Women are in the focus at Newlands Clinic on purpose. As Director of Medical Affairs and Head of Women's Health Center, Margie Pascoe is putting her heart and soul into treating and caring for our female patients. Even though her work is upsetting at times, the born Zimbabwean cannot imagine a more fulfilling job.

From the beginning, Newlands Clinic is treating more women than men, and established a Women’s Health Center in 2015 - why?
Women are far more at risk of getting infected with HIV than men. Furthermore, HIV-positive women have a high risk of infection with the Human Papilloma Virus, which increases the possibility of contracting cervical cancer. Some years ago, more than 30% of our female patients were suffering from early stages of cervical cancer. We reduced the number of affected women drastically thanks to screening and treatment.

So, women are in the focus because of medical reasons?
Yes, but also because of social reasons: women are extremely vulnerable due to the patriarchal structures they are living in. They are not empowered to make decisions about their own body. For example, if a woman is married, she is not empowered to insist on condom use. Furthermore, women carry a heavy load. It is not only about them being strong but about their families being strong. If a woman is not well, her children are not cared for. Therefore, women have very good health-seeking behavior. Because of all these reasons we at Newlands Clinic are focusing on women.

Concretely speaking, how do you do that?
On one hand, while offering overall medical care for our female patient. On the other hand, while providing comprehensive information and advice on issues relating to family planning and relationship difficulties. By imparting information, treating women with dignity, giving them the opportunity to be heard, we then become a voice for them. Sometimes a hug is already making a huge difference.

How did the corona pandemic influence the situation women found themselves in?
The pandemic brought a lot of uncertainty for our patients. Most of them were already living from hand to mouth. Because of the measures implemented by the government many were left with almost nothing. For a long time, people were not allowed to leave the house due to the lockdown. Women had to care for their children around the clock. The crisis enforced the womens’ role of being the pillar of their families and society.

What kind of support did you offer to the women in this dire situation?
We were able to remain open and provide essential medical services at all times thanks to our highly motivated team and the resources. We did not have to turn anyone away, who has been seeking help. Also, psychological support has been very important; the certainty that we were accompanying them through this dire time. We were contacting women via Whats-App-Chats and offered telephonic consulting because personal meetings are hardly possible. This is how we are carrying each other through this crisis.

You are experiencing a lot of trauma every day. How are you coping?
I am still learning how much I can carry people and how much do I have to walk away but leaving them with some level of support. I am still finding the balance. When I drive out the gate, I tell myself ‘Newlands Clinic is staying here and not coming home’. But I hardly manage to do so. Often when I go to sleep, I am thinking about what I could do differently or what we could do better. Luckily, I have a wonderful family, they are a great support. They allow me to do what I do as a doctor. And I love my job because we can make a difference.