Date: 08/03/2009, 7:13 PM     Author: Na’ama Rak

In celebration of International Women’s Day on Sunday (Jan. 8), the Institute for Periodic Examination at the Central Regional Medical Clinic has developed a special project entitled Periodic Checkups for Female Career Soldiers. The institute had taken notice that less and less female career soldiers had been examined at the institute in recent years, despite the fact that every career soldier above the age 26 has the right to be examined once every three to five years in order to identify risk factors for common diseases. In December 2008, the commander of the institute’s headquarters, Major Shir Hershkowitz, announced that the institute would be dedicating an entire month exclusively to female soldiers in order to boost their ability to tend to their own health.

More than 700 female career soldiers were invited to take part in the project during the month of March; every one of them received a personal phone in order to make an appointment according to her schedule. The institute reports that those invitations received a 93 percent response, 20 percent more than the monthly average. “We made the invitation more personal than usual,” explains the commander of the institute, Maj. Dr. Aviv Kedem. “We also allowed them to schedule the date of their examination so that they could come together with their friends. We also sent a special invitation to their homes.” Women from field units and home front units of all ages and ranks are expected to come to the institute throughout the month.

The traditional examination, which usually includes examination by a specialist, a computer questionnaire, and blood and hearing tests, was further enriched; it will include an examination by a gynaecologist and a surgical specialist, and the women will also be able to meet with a dentist, receive a tetanus vaccination, and meet with a dietician. Upon arrival at the institute, the woman meets Maj. Hershkovitz, who accompanies her personally throughout the entire day. Additionally, lectures on various topics regarding women’s health take place every day; some of these topics include for gynaecology in the IDF (Zahal), nutrition, medicine during pre-menopause, stress and exhaustion, and plastic surgery.

Although only a few days have passed since the beginning of the project, its success is already noticeable. “I have never heard such praise [from the women],” says Maj. Dr. Kedem, proudly. “It is very important to carry out these examinations; certain lifestyles aren’t conducive to paying adequate attention to healthcare. This outreach is very important.”