I was introduced to Dr Sharifah Halimah Jaafar when we were guests, seated next to each other at a dinner event. The next time we met was at a celebration organised by the Johor Bahru chapter of the International Women’s Association to commemorate International Women’s Day 2017 that featured Dr Sharifah, among other guest speakers, who shared inspiring experiences that deeply encouraged and empowered the women.
The audience listened with rapt attention to her deeply personal experience as Dr Sharifah spoke with passion about clinging to the hope of the blue sky, which inspired her determination to adopt her mother’s courage to break down the barriers of domestic violence and poverty to find her path to success.
Now Dr Sharifah is not only the most popular gynaecologist in Johor (by Google search) but also a most passionate and dedicated doctor when it came to delivering health services to her patients.
And for two consecutive years, 2020 and 2021, her practice at Dr Sharifah Women’s Clinic and Laparoscopic Surgery was the award recipient of the Best Obstetrics & Gynaecology Clinic of the Year in Asia Pacific awarded by Global Healthcare Asia Pacific.
Academic Background & Area of Interest
Dr Sharifah’s career in medicine started in 1991 when she received her primary medical degree from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and completed her Master’s Degree of Medicine in Obstetrics & Gynaecology from UKM in 2001.
She was posted to Taiping Hospital, Perak, the first hospital where she worked as a clinical specialist until 2004 before she left to start her private practice in KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital. She moved to Johor Bahru in 2014 and worked in Regency Specialist Hospital until recently, when she moved her practice to Gleneagles Hospital Medini, in Iskandar Puteri.
Dr Sharifah is very passionate about advanced technology in gynae surgery. In 2003, when Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) or key-hole surgery was in its infancy in Malaysia, Dr Sharifah saw MIS as a way forward and beneficial for women who needed surgery as it was less painful, leaves smaller scars and has faster recovery compared to open abdomen surgery.
Driven by the passion for acquiring the skills for better care, she then began her long journey and learning curve in operative laparoscopy. She received hands-on training in Minimally Invasive Surgery from renowned local and international experts in this field.
After completing a hands-on Advanced Gynae-Laparoscopic course in the IRCAD Centre, Taiwan, she completed the accredited International Society of Gynae-Endoscopy (ISGE) course of Bachelor in Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIGS) from the International Society of Gynae-Endoscopy in 2018.
Through continuous learning and perfecting her skills for the improved outcome of surgery, Dr Sharifah completed a Diploma course in Advanced Minimal Invasive Surgery with the University of Schleswig Holstein-Keil, Germany, in 2020.
As an experienced gynaecologist who was performing approximately 350 to 400 cases of advanced gynae laparoscopic and hysteroscopic surgery per year, that ranged from simple to complex cases, Dr Sharifah strongly believes that with the advanced surgical technology available today, no woman should have a big ugly scar to remove disease in her abdomen. To her, it was a matter of time before open abdomen surgery would become obsolete.
As a woman and mother of three children, Dr Sharifah understands that women were generally concerned and fearful about undergoing surgery which involves a long process of recovery, long-term complications, and its impact on their body, family and employment.
Minimally Invasive Surgery helps to lessen their fear and to make an early decision on the treatment of their health condition as mothers are understandably keen to be back on their feet again to care for the family and go about their daily routines as soon as possible.
Endometriosis Center of Excellence
Through the years of her practice, Dr Sharifah developed a deep interest in helping women with endometriosis, a chronic disease which destroys women’s quality of life due to chronic pain and infertility.
The majority of women who are impacted by this disease are young women who are under siege by the disease symptoms during their productive age.
Unfortunately, endometriosis is also the most misunderstood disease with myths and stigmas as its symptoms are often dismissed as normal menstrual pain. This results in a delay in diagnosis and treatment and prolonged suffering in many women.
In a continuous effort to increase public awareness about this disease, Dr Sharifah, who was recently appointed as Medical Advisor, along with the Endometriosis Society of Malaysia, run many advocacy and awareness programmes to support women suffering from the disease and increase the rate of early diagnosis and treatment, especially among young women.
Aware of her lack of expertise in specialising in endometriosis to treat advanced diseases, especially deeply infiltrating diseases, Dr Sharifah decided to increase her credentials by completing a double Master’s course, the Master of Science of Anatomical Landmarks and Master in Surgical Management of Deeply Infiltrating Endometriosis from the Minimal Invasive Surgery (MIS) Academy, Dubai (UAE) led by Prof Dr A.Wattiez, a world-renowned expert in endometriosis surgery.
At Gleneagles Hospital Medini, Dr Sharifah aims to develop a Center of Excellence for Endometriosis where all treatment modalities, up-to-date technology for early diagnosis and treatment of advanced disease, and highly skilled surgical expertise are made available under one roof to provide better and long-term care for women with endometriosis.
Award-Winning Clinic of the Year
With a firm commitment to providing service excellence to patients, Dr Sharifah and her team at Dr Sharifah, Clinic for Women & Laparoscopic Surgery were awarded the Best Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Clinic of the Year in the Asia Pacific for two consecutive years, 2020 and 2021 by Global Healthcare Asia-Pacific.
According to Dr Sharifah, the essence of winning this award centred primarily on her team’s efforts to provide the best quality patient-centred service.
“We treat every patient with respect and see them as part of our family and friends in need and extend personalised care to them beyond their primary medical and surgical condition, sometimes even beyond the ‘hospital walls’, she said.
On Food & Beverages Business
Knowing that a healthy outside always starts from the inside, Dr Sharifah opened H Gourmet in 2021, the first sous vide-themed café in the nation that serves Go-WellSpring (GWS) Gourmet Healthy Food to encourage diners to eat good and feel good.
I was delighted to witness her foray into Food & Beverage when I met Dr Sharifah again at the opening of H Gourmet, a Muslim-friendly café at Taman Eko Botani, Iskandar Puteri.
This café serves calorie-controlled meals on a dine-in menu, chilled, ready-to-eat takeaways, and tender sous vide products with easy-to-prepare reheating instructions to eat at home.
Healthy does not mean food must taste bland. Their products use high-protein, low-fat and nutrient-rich meats that are marinated with 100% Italian extra-virgin olive oil, Himalaya salt, and fresh herbs, prepared through the sous vide method before they are vacuum sealed for food safety.
While it may sound like a cliché, Dr Sharifah agrees that we are what we eat. As she helps patients to have a better quality of life, she also encourages everyone to adopt a healthier diet with a menu of perfectly cooked, nutrient-rich, healthy food in gourmet meals to savour for fitness and good health.
Dr Sharifah Clinic for Women & Laparoscopic Surgery is located at Gleneagles Medini Hospital, Suite 609 & 610, No. 2 Jalan Medini Utara 4, 79250 Masai, Johor.
For more info about Dr Sharifah’s research, publications and medical affiliations, visit the website: www.drsharifah.com.my