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As part of its ongoing multifarious community outreach programmes, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK (BAPS), hosted a national health awareness fair for women at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, on Saturday 11 October 2008.

The fair was inaugurated by Ann Keen, MP for Brentford and Isleworth and current Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Health Service, and Dawn Butler, MP for Brent South.

The aim of the event was to raise vital awareness among the local community about some of the major sources of illness and disability for women in the UK, particularly for South Asian women. Awareness and early detection of many of these conditions help to prevent serious and often disabling consequences.

Experts from a variety of fields spoke and conducted interactive forums on the following topics:

  • Breast and Cervical Cancer – by Dr Bhawna Sirohi (Consultant Medical Oncologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge)
  • Menopause/Hormone Replacement Therapy – by Dr Nuttan Tanna (Consultant Pharmacist at Northwick Park Hospital, London)
  • Osteoporosis – by Dr Hema Patel (General Practitioner, London)

Additionally, Marie Geiger and Ms Daksha Hathi from Breast Cancer Care facilitated a special workshop. They were available all afternoon to field questions and address concerns from attendees on a more personal level.

One of the other highlights of the fair was a live cooking demonstration by Manju Malhi, the prominent Indian-born British chef and food writer whose TV appearances include ‘Great Food Live’ and the BBC’s ‘Saturday Kitchen’. She demonstrated a series of healthy recipes including chilli paneer, spicy rice and okra with black pepper. Reinforcing the importance of health awareness and lifestyle, Ms Malhi explained: “A traditional vegetarian Indian meal can be easy on the pounds – both around your waist and on your wallet – and be tasty, too.”

Several national charities were also on hand to offer advice with information booths and exhibition stalls. These included:

  • British Heart Foundation
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Diabetes UK
  • National Osteoporosis Society

The Fair proved a great success among both the attendees and the presenters. It provided valuable information and guidance to hundreds of women to help them tackle these health conditions at an early stage.

All the speakers were particularly impressed at the smooth coordination of the event. Dr Tanna also noted that the reassuring, comfortable environment of the Mandir was important to women for asking the right questions and receiving expert advice.

Dr Sejal Popat, the country’s youngest tertiary specialist and a leading member of BAPS Medical Services in the UK, added: “It was very satisfying to see such a big turnout. Not everybody who needs this information has access to it and we want to reach out to as many women as possible and offer help which is relevant and practical.”

The event was open to all, and was free of charge. 

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