Women should be very careful about their kidney health: Dr Faiza Hayat

Asif Khan Turk

Dr Faiza Hayat Khan is the first female urologist of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the daughter of a brave police officer (late) who has the credit of breaking the shackles of multiple taboos regarding the field of urology. She actually transformed the perception about urology among the lady doctors and has elicited a reasonable number of them by setting up an inspirational example that a female urologist can also play her due role professionally and serve the ailing women population. 

Dr Faiza Hayat has done MBBS from Khyber Girls Medical College (KGMC) Peshawar. Afterwards, she did FCPS (Urology) from the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) and then joined the Institute of Kidney Diseases (IKD), Hayatabad, Peshawar as Specialist Registrar. She also has the credit of initiating female OPD at IKD and motivated her female colleagues to serve women with urological illnesses. 

Her personality is very dynamic and she is highly committed, having a sound exposure in her field, particularly dealing with women’s urological issues. She has expertise in treating UTIs, overactive bladder, incontinence, kidney pathologies i.e. stones and cancers and other relevant health complications and is known as a rising urologist and health expert in the metropolitan city.

It merits to mention here that she is the brave daughter of a marvelous and martyred police officer – Hayat Ahmed Khan, former CID police chief. Joining urology against the odds, perceived as a male-dominated medical field and full of taboos, is the glaring imprint of her late father’s personality and professional demeanor.

Dr Faiza Hayat Khan spoke to the Sunrise Today here on Saturday that how she joined the field of urology after graduation and how is the plight of common urological diseases being faced by women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Following is the excerpt of the interview:

Sunrise Today: Please tell us something that how you chose the field of urology as it is full of taboos for women, particularly?

Dr Faiza Hayat: Well, when I was doing FCPS, during my 2-month rotation at urology ward my interest got developed in joining urology as a specialist. There were a lot of female patients in OPDs and OTs reluctant to be operated and treated by a male surgeon. Obviously, there is no issue in treatment by a male doctor but still there are many women patients preferring a female urologist, who would understand their issues at firsthand and they would be comfortable too. So, that was the turning point in my career and I decided to continue as a urologist and dispel the misconceptions about women in urology. 

It is also to be noted that trend is now changing as more and more females are exploring different surgical and medical specialties, not just gynecology and radiology, whereas I feel honored and blessed to be the pioneer in the field of urology in KP and a source of inspiration for my juniors intending to join urology. Furthermore, I will be going for further specialization in female and functional urology and thereafter will be back to my people.

Sunrise Today: Right, so were you supported by your seniors or discouraged and discriminated while making a decision about joining the urology?

Dr Faiza Hayat: Not at all. I was highly supported and encouraged by my seniors, particularly Prof Dr Safia, former Dean PGMI and Prof Dr Nasir Orakzai, former Director IKD, in my decision, and of course my family. The continuous guidance of Dr Liaqat Ali, Head of the Department Urology and Transplant, especially in research activities is worth mentioning. It is because of such a dynamic and supportive team and senior faculty that both in academics and research I have various publications in national and international journals. 

Obviously, I had apprehensions before joining the urology unit as a trainee but all those fears and concerns were soon diminished because of the extremely friendly supporting colleagues and staff around.

Sunrise Today: So, you mean that urology is good for lady doctors as a profession?

Dr Faiza Hayat: Absolutely, it is one of the best fields for female doctors to pursue as a surgeon and serve the female population as most of the women do not seek medical consultation because of the fear to be examined and operated by a male surgeon. There are female urologists all over the world though in a meagre number and they too are of the notion that female patients feel more at ease and can discuss their illnesses in detail with female doctors as compared to male doctors. Almost 50 percent of our country is female population so we must have more female surgeons particularly urologists to serve such a major part of our population.

Sunrise Today: How urology can be made more attractive for female doctors?

Dr Faiza Hayat: Well, it is very important question. Our undergraduate curriculum should be improved and developed by including urology in it as a major subject and the students must be able to at least know the very basic urological issues related to women’s health and their better management, at the most. Similarly, postgraduate trainees should also have a mandatory rotation in urology so as to have an exposure to various diseases and surgical procedures.

Sunrise Today: Well, so now we come to the point that what are the common urological diseases of women in KP? Please also elaborate their symptoms.

Dr Faiza Hayat: 80% of female patients coming to OPDs are the cases of uncomplicated UTIs. They mostly have symptoms of dysuria, increase frequency of urination and difficulty in urination. UTIs are common to all age groups but the underlying cause is definitely different in each group. Stones can present in any age group with kidney stones about 70% followed by ureteric and bladder stones. Stone disease during pregnancy should always be addressed in time rather delaying it till postpartum or not at all. Uro-cancers is another major category of patients presenting with blood in urine. Any single episode of painless blood in urine is an alarming sign and should never be ignored. 

Diabetes and hypertension are a major challenge to kidney health and one of the major causes of end stage renal disease followed by stones and congenital anomalies. Uncontrolled diabetes not only affects the kidneys but also causes urinary bladder dysfunction leading to urinary retention, incontinence and neurogenic bladder.

Another very important yet overlooked issue is of patients with gynecological or obstetric complications during childbirth or cesarean section or pelvic procedures. Most of such patients are reluctant to seek medical consultation until they present themselves to doctor after developing complications. 

Sunrise Today: How women can prolong their kidney life? I mean, what measure should they adopt?

Dr Faiza Hayat: It is pertinent to take much fluids i.e. 2-3 liters during 24 hours for a healthy kidney function. Diabetes and blood pressure must be monitored regularly, especially of diabetic and hypertensive patients. Apart from this, cut off caffeinated and spicy diet, avoid junk foods and tobacco products to keep your kidneys going smooth. Timely urination, personal hygiene and pelvic floor exercises are very useful in preventing UTIs.  

Sunrise Today: What message you would like give to society to safeguard ourselves from kidney illnesses?

Dr Faiza Hayat: Well, I would like to say that one should seek timely medical advice to prevent complications, if he/she feels any problem related to kidneys. Women should not ignore any urological symptoms as they mostly do because a healthy woman would deliver a healthy environment and society at large. Expecting ladies must do routine antenatal checkups to avoid complications during childbirth. Lastly, I would like to demand the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to increase the capacity of our inpatients as we have only 6 beds per unit for female patients at IKD, whereas faculty posts should be created so as to further flourish female urology as a sub-specialty and train the upcoming enthusiasts.

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