Friday, January 12, 2007

Faith healing on the NHS

A while ago, I used this idea as a satirical notion as part of an argument against faith schools. Now reality has caught up:

The NHS should provide more faith-based care for Muslims… says Edinburgh University's Professor Aziz Sheikh.

It’s not as deranged as the idea I was ridiculing, but it’s still triumph of identity politics over common sense.

Professor Sheikh said a better picture of the health profile and experiences of British Muslims was needed to help them access services. “The limited health data show that Muslims are about twice as likely to self report poor health and disability as the general population. Muslims are predominantly congregated in the inner city slums, have the lowest household income, poorest educational attainment, and highest unemployment and experience more poverty than any other faith community.”

If disproportionate poverty is causing ill-health among Muslims, that’s bad. But not all Muslims are poor, and most people whose health suffers due to poverty are not Muslims. If we want health services to operate differently in relation to different local conditions, then why not focus on poverty directly rather than a crude, partial proxy?

“Many Muslims, to maintain modesty, prefer to see a same sex clinician. Such choice is typically unavailable despite the higher number of women doctors in the NHS.”

Such an attitude is hardly unique to Muslims.

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