Access to podiatry services for minority communities

Black History Month
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Fourth-year podiatry student, Hiba Abdel Rahim, reflects on the language barriers that prevent Arabic-speaking communities from accessing podiatry services

My name is Hiba Abdel Rahim. I’m from an African and Arabic background. I am a fourth-year mature student at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

I chose to study podiatry as a second career because we have a family history of diabetes and both of my parents are people with diabetes. When I was 17 years old, I volunteered to work in the main hospital in Khartoum, Sudan. I worked in the sterilisation department of the hospital. Whilst I was there I witnessed patients with diabetes who had to have lower limb amputations due to diabetic complications. Many patients were very young; this memory has never left me. 

In Edinburgh, as an African Arabic women, there are people who speak limited English in my community. With language as a barrier, this creates the perfect environment for chronic foot conditions to worsen. I believe there should be more leaflets on general footcare health in Arabic, as this limits my own community from being able to access podiatry services. In addition, this means that my community doesn’t know what podiatrists are and what we do. Sadly, this means minority groups with limited English are unable to use our valuable podiatry services.

As I am completing my fourth year, I feel strongly that when I qualify I will continue to push for podiatry services to be available to limited English speakers in the Arabic community and other minority groups.  I look forward to the future.