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Muslim health care is 'insensitive'

Doctors group says medicine should give 'premium to equity, not just equality in caring'

Muslim health care is 'insensitive'
A nurse of Medecins sans Frontieres records patient information at an evacuation center in Mindanao (photo by Helmi Mekaoui/Medecins sans Frontieres)
Lyn V. Ramo, Baguio City

June 6, 2011

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A study done by a group of northern health workers found a need for "culturally-sensitive" health care for Muslims living among indigenous people in the Cordillera region. The group Doctors for Indigenous Health and Culturally Competent Education, Networking and Governance said health delivery for Muslims should give "premium to equity, not just equality in caring for diverse groups." The study, "Minority in a Minority: The Muslim Patient in the Cordillera," released last week, revealed that among the issues of concern are the serving of non-halal food to Muslim patients by health personnel. One respondent of the study even revealed that she was offered tubal ligation because doctors did not know this procedure is not allowed under Islam. Dr. Ryan C. Guinaran, who conducted the study, said there is a need for health authorities to translate materials into a language common to health workers in indigenous areas and their patients. He also recommended the hiring of Muslim village health workers by local government units. The study also discovered that health facilities, including hospitals and health centers, are not sensitive to the religion of patients. Religious symbols in hospital rooms, for instance, cater to Christian patients.
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