Women in medicine

We’re celebrating four specialist doctors, each with unique and rare specialities. Best of all? You’ll find them at the modern, healing environment of Life Flora Hospital. They shed some light on what they do.

Do not underestimate Dr Veneshree Naidoo’s petiteness. She is a powerhouse of motivation and hope for every patient that sets foot in her practice. Not only is she a Gastroenterologist – who can diagnose and treat conditions that affect the digestive system – but a sub-specialist colorectal surgeon. A general surgeon who trained further and sub-specialised in the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the colon, rectum and anus. “Apart from providing a surgical solution, I love being able to establish a relationship based on trust that lets me guide my patients to better health. Teach them what they can do to aid their healing process, to encourage and support them to fight their disease. Because to be able to preserve life or improve a patient’s quality of life is what makes me happy.”

With surgery being quite a male-dominated profession, it is comforting to know that Dr Veneshree can offer women the choice to be treated by a female sub-specialist colorectal surgeon. “Not only do I have the skills of colorectal pathologies, but an inherent understanding of the female body and mind.”

Her health advice for women? • Be mindful about recognising signs of illnesses. Your body speaks to you when something is wrong. Listen! • Have regular screenings for colon, cervical and breast cancer • Find ways of nourishing your spirit so you can manage stress better • Get enough sleep • Drink enough water • Avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol • Lose weight if you are overweight • Eat more fruit and veggies, and less fatty foods and meat.

“Just because you didn’t do anything for your health yesterday, doesn’t mean you can’t do something today.”

Growing up in an obstetrics and gynaecology family it came as no surprise that Dr Chrysanthi Georgiou followed in the same footsteps. Though she is making her mark as not only an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist but also a Fetal and Maternal subspecialist. “Fetal medicine deals with the growth, development, care and treatment of the unborn baby. We do risk assessments for different aspects of the pregnancy such as the risk for pre-eclampsia, preterm labour, Down syndrome and other chromosomal and genetic conditions. We also guide parents through the process of decision-making and the journey of pregnancy should an abnormality be found. As well as being able to do certain interventions and surgical procedures while the fetus is in the womb.” Dr Chrysanthi added that maternal medicine deals with a pregnancy that might be at high risk due to a chronic health condition, a previous difficult birthing experience or a current pregnancy complication.

“However, we don’t only look after high-risk pregnancies, we look after all – whether they are deemed high or low risk.” Regardless of the many pregnancy journeys she has been through, it always is an honour for her to be part of it.

“Kypros Nicolaides, one of the founding fathers of fetal medicine once said: “This field allows us to care for life before birth”, how special is that!”

Tips for a healthy pregnancy? • Before falling pregnant, visit your Obstetrician to assess any risks that may be present • Moderate exercise 30 minutes daily for five days • Maintain a healthy diet • Put a trusted support system together, the old dictum of “it takes a village to raise a child” is true • Discuss concerns with your Obstetrician immediately.

If you’re trying to fall pregnant or have suffered from recurrent pregnancy loss or miscarriage, you may be wondering what type of doctor to see. Look no further than Dr Eularnia Bok-McMinn, an Obstetrician, Gynaecologist and Reproductive Endocrinologist. Quite a tongue-twister, a reproductive endocrinologist is very rare in our region. So, what does she do? “I first find the problem with a woman’s endocrine (hormone) system and treat it before assisting the patient in falling pregnant. Apart from this, I specialise in high-risk pregnancies and managing conditions like diabetes, obesity, thyroid diseases, adrenal disorders and pituitary conditions so that the patient can have a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby.”

Good news are plans to open a fertility set up at Life Flora Hospital by Dr Bok-McMinn in the future – offering good quality and affordable fertility options and treatments.
Her advice for couples facing fertility challenges? • Cut dairy out – the Casein in milk destroys sperm and interferes with ovulation • No drinking and/ or smoking • Get to a healthy BMI to be fertile • A lot of couples are stressing, timing when they must be intimate, and get disappointed when things don’t go their way. Have fun and enjoy the process!

Health advice for women? • Go for regular check-ups – especially if you are sexually active • Visit your gynae for a head-to-toe examination – if they find something it can be prevented. Early detection is key! • Even check up on the contraceptives you are
on to prevent problems with fertility in future.

It is quite evident that Dr Bok-McMinn’s passion is to help women be a better and happier version of themselves, whether it is in terms of their reproduction, to help them fall pregnant or to lose weight and feel good about themselves.

With a warm smile that can brighten up even the gloomiest day, it is understandable why Dr Susan Coetzer is so popular among her patients. She is a sub-specialist Geriatrician and Specialist Physician that treats older people comprehensively with a special interest in Dementia, frailty, palliative care and healthy ageing. “I’ve always loved older people and felt I had a calling to care for them in the later stages of their life. In short, I focus on their health care – from the physical aspects to the social, psychological and spiritual wellbeing of the elderly patient. To give them the best quality of life, regardless of their journey.”

Her tips for healthy ageing? • Get moving by doing exercises and physical activities
• Balanced diet – a little bit of everything • Keep your brain stimulated • Stay socially active with friends and family and within your community • Stop smoking and don’t drink too much alcohol • Avoid certain medications that may have a harmful effect on your brain, speak to your doctor first.

Warning signs to look out for in elderly people? • Unable to perform normal activities • Change in personality • Withdrawal from normal activities • Depression without an obvious cause (like the loss of someone special).

“Many of us take our health and bodies for granted when we’re young. The good news is, that it is never too late to start developing healthy habits. Your future self will thank you.”

For more information regarding the specialists or services at Life Flora Hospital, e-mail Lauren van Zanten on [email protected]