Wear your Hijab as Nurses: it’s the Nightingale Way, it’s your Religious Right!!

19th June, 2019    Islamic Medical Association of Ghana (IMAGH) Chapter 5, Article 21(1) C of the 1992 Constitution of The Republic of...

19th June, 2019   
Islamic Medical Association of Ghana (IMAGH)

Chapter 5, Article 21(1) C of the 1992 Constitution of The Republic of Ghana states “All persons shall have the right to freedom to practice any religion and to manifest such practice”. The practice of Muslim female nurses being forced to remove their veils in various government and private health facilities in Ghana is a gross infringement of religious right enshrined in Ghana’s constitution and international human right charters.

In February 2015, about four years ago, the Ministry of Health issued a clear directives to all Health Institutions and training schools to allow Muslim female nurses to wear their Hijab. The directives further stated amongst other things that “The Ministry of Health wishes to inform all heads of institutions in the health sector that it is a sign of religious intolerance as well as a breach of the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana for Muslims female nurses to be forced to take off their hijabs and traditional scarves worn by Muslim women to cover their hair and neck and sometimes their faces to work and school. The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) also called for strict compliance to above directives in its 2nd March 2015 letter to all health institutions.

Notwithstanding, the practice continues and in recent times we have witnessed gross discrimination and punishment such as demotion of rank, intimidation, refusal to approve posting, dismissal and verbal abuse meted out to Muslim female nurses simply for wearing hijabs leading to avoidable tensions within the general Ghanaian communities. Islamic Medical Association of Ghana (IMAGH) as the Mouthpiece of all Muslim Health professionals in Ghana strongly condemns these gross violations of the constitution and the clear disregard for professional directives from the Ministry of health, Ghana Health Service and Nursing and Midwifery council allowing Muslim female nurses to wear their the Hijab.

We will like to commend the NMC, Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, various civil society organizations, media as well as the Ministry of Inner-cities and Zongo Development and well-meaning Ghanaians that have condemned the growing intolerance against Muslim female nurses. IMAGH will continue to engage all stakeholders towards finding a sustainable and amicable solutions based on dialogue and consultations. At the same time, we shall strongly defend the right of all Muslim female nurses in this country through constitutional means to seek redress against any institutions or persons that seek to discriminate against the Muslim female nurses.

As the mouth of piece of all Muslim Health professionals in Ghana, we urge all Muslim female nurses to go ahead and put on a simple plain white veil beautifully tucked in their uniforms. A lot of female Muslim nurses have been discriminated in the health sector because of their hijab and it is clear that discrimination is not only a civil and human right offence but also a harmful mental influence on the health of the Muslim female nurses

The rationale behind the unfortunate discrimination of Muslim female nurses in the use of hijab being the Hijab will be a source of transmitting infections is unfounded. IMAGH as a professional health association understands the importance of infection prevention and will not countenance anything that will compromise any international standards. However, the assertion above is a mere opinion and perception without any proper scientific and empirical bases. At best we see it as a subtle attempt to hide intolerance and discrimination against Muslim female nurses, because catholic nursing nuns are freely allowed to wear their veils, rosary with uniforms extended below their knees. 

Most significantly, head covering, hijab, has been a part of the Nursing Uniform from the inception of the profession for sanitary reason and modesty as practiced by Florence Nightingale, etc. and any attempt to deny the wearing of it now is rather an aberration from the fact of history. The deaconess and early nurses also had full length covering dress, simple long sleeves, and with their head completely covered to conceal and cover their hair for sanitary purposes. Hair covering protected wearer's long hair, pulled tightly into a high knot and hidden under the veil or nurse cap, avoiding dangling hair from catching unwanted pathogens.

With time, the veil is being replaced by the cap and as time went on, hairstyles changed and nurses' caps changed with them. Rather than covering most of the hair, the newer, stylized caps were designed to perch on the back of the head. In 1877, a probationer wrote that she and her fellow students wore caps, or no caps, as they liked, and when worn, were of any description.

 By 1942 in London, the long sleeves, were cut short largely due to the clothing material shortage during the World War II, the nursing uniforms were also noticeably shorter than their ancestors. In the U.S, the garment industry was controlled by the federal government, and all others supported such approach and made sacrifices, including the nurses who were also serving America alongside the country's soldiers. By 1943 nurses duty uniform features a cut that was common in most of women's garments in World War I. The hemline falls just below the knee, and the sleeves were much shorter than those of the previous nursing uniforms.

In the 1960‘s nurses became in charge of what they wore, and they designed their medical outfits in shapes and lengths that were more preferred by them not considering the requirements of the medical sector. Wearing the nurses cap they left their hair swinging loosely hence increasing the chances of contamination and infection transfer. The sharp contrasts between uniforms worn by nurses today and earlier nurses were purely due to modernity and fashion and shortage of resources and has nothing to do with infection prevention.

 Accepted standard practice and policies of infection prevention promotes covering as a barrier as opposed to exposure and that’s why the use of Personal Protection equipment such as hand gloves, aprons, long sleeved gowns, caps/complete hair covering, surgical masks, eye goggles, face visors and respirator masks are highly encouraged where risks of infections are high. Thus the Hijab rather than spreading Infections, will aid infection prevention and contamination of the nurses hair.


Contact: 0243537112 / 0244423399 / 0242755537





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KRLIVEZ.COM: Wear your Hijab as Nurses: it’s the Nightingale Way, it’s your Religious Right!!
Wear your Hijab as Nurses: it’s the Nightingale Way, it’s your Religious Right!!
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