Women in Dragash have always struggled to see a doctor. The municipality rests high in the mountains of southern Kosovo, far from the nearest city of Prizren. Public transportation is limited and weather conditions often prevent travel. Dragash Municipality does not have any female doctors, and few people consider it acceptable for women to be examined by men.
Concerned for the well being of women in their area, the Women’s Initiative Association set out to raise awareness about the importance of routine check-ups, particularly toward early diagnosis of cancer.
“Women had the opportunity to meet a woman doctor, ask questions, speak openly, learn about cancer and understand the importance of detecting cancer early,” said Gjejron Lokaj, Coordinator of the Women’s Initiative Association.
“It was very needed in our village,” said Qesbana Pajaziti who participated in the meeting in Lubishte village. “We had significant knowledge about breast cancer, but now we are better informed.We are even able to perform self-exams to identify symptoms by ourselves.” This new knowledge will help women detect potential signs of cancer independently.
Further, 182 Albanian, Gorani and Bosnian women in eight isolated villages received free-of-charge health exams. An additional estimated 2,500 teachers, nurses, pupils and citizens also gained knowledge through the media camping on Radio Sharr and Radio Gora.
Women’s interest in the examinations was so high that the organization had to prioritize recipients. Women who had problematic medical histories or illness in their families received examinations first. Women not examined were advised to make the extra effort to visit a doctor, especially if they were over 40 years old.
“I enjoy the fact that women had this opportunity,especially when we know that in our community there are no women doctors,”Gjejron Lokaj said.