- Religion is a critical constituent of human life, which has a direct influence on all areas of interactions with other people.
- Sometimes, it leads to conflicts and misunderstandings; in other cases, religious differences become the ground for oppression – prolonged unjust treatment and discrimination.
- That said, religious oppression is unequal treatment of those, who belong to differing confessions.
- In this way, regardless of living in the modern world that moves in the direction of eliminating borders between nations, the problem of religious oppression in the medical field is complicated to overcome.
Public policy debates
- Except for affecting social relations, religious issues are the subject of severe public policy debates.
- In most cases, public policies focus on avoiding oppression and minimizing the risks of religious segregation in the health care sector.
- There are different levels of public policy debates: care acts guaranteeing the freedom of religion and equal access to the medical aid at the court level; legislation protecting equity in the society and determining exemption in the health care sector at the state level; and hospital statutes at the local level (Issues for debate in American public policy, 2017).
- Because of the criticality of religious freedom and equality, the issue is often discussed at the highest level (for instance, President Obama paid significant attention to the problem of religious oppression in health care during his presidential debates in 2012).
- Racism and religious discrimination in different areas of social relations, including medicine, is the subject of numerous international conferences organized by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and the most influential actors of the global community (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, n.d.).
- Besides public policy debates, religious oppression has a direct influence on free access to professional care.
- Somehow, religious minorities are the most discriminated groups of the population when it comes to free and equal access to health care.
- Most issues are connected to the negative image of certain religious minorities and their lifestyles, which are acceptable in society (Aroussel & Carlbom, 2016).
- On the other hand, medical workers tend to ignore the individual needs of religious minorities, such as following a particular lifestyle or ignoring specific recommendations due to peculiarities of religious values, although it contradicts with the mission of a doctor or nurse, i.e. being faith-blind and oppressing patients subconsciously.
- Finally, oppression might be caused by the lack of knowledge about particular religious principles, thus leading to the failure of providing faith-acceptable care.
- Nevertheless, sometimes patients themselves provoke religious oppression.
- In this way, discrimination is not always the cause of limiting access to medical care and professional aid.
- In some cases, doctors cannot help a patient because they do not understand how to respond to the faith-based refusal of conventional treatment, thus choosing to avoid similar patients in the future and oppressing them consciously (Rumun, 2014).
- In other cases, it is a patient that provokes a religion-based conflict and does not want to be treated by a doctor of differing religions, which still leads to oppression.
- Finally, some patients refuse to be empowered through religious consciousness if they do not share the same religious principles, thus oppressing themselves and putting their treatment at risk (Rumun, 2014).
- On the other hand, religious differences hurt access to employment.
- Just like some patients are oppressed in obtaining medical aid, religious minorities often suffer from discrimination while being interviewed for positions of medical workers and are limited in employment opportunities.
- Because of patient bias, some hospitals support the exemption of religious minorities, ignoring national legal frameworks and provisions of international legislation (for instance, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights promoting equal access to employment).
- In addition to patient bias, people of different religions are limited in employment opportunities because they are associated with a particular lifestyle and religious routines, such as prayers at a particular time of the day or missing work on particular days of the week, even if they do not follow them, i.e. without adequate grounds for refusal (Genuis & Lipp, 2013).
- Finally, they can be deprived of an opportunity to work at a hospital because of the belief that they are culturally incompetent, i.e. cannot deploy the patient-based approach because of their religious engagement.
Opinion and Conclusion
- To sum up, religious oppression remains one of the most critical issues in health care provision.
- Even though it is broadly negotiated at different levels of public policy, the challenge is complicated to overcome.
- The problem is getting even more serious because of the unwillingness to recognize the uniqueness of other religions and accept others’ freedom to choosing their way in life as well as the lack of desire to change and support differing people.
- Still, individual effort and focus on respecting equal freedoms and rights, as well as social and political coordination, might help to cope with this problem and establish equality.
Aroussel, J., & Carlbom, A. (2016). Culture and religious beliefs about reproductive health. Best Practice & Research: Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 32(1), 77-87.
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Genuis, S. J., & Lipp, C. (2013). Ethical diversity and the role of conscience in clinical medicine. International Journal of Family Medicine, 2013(1), 1-18. Web.
Issues for debate in American public policy. (2017). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Rumun, A. J. (2014). Influence of religious beliefs on healthcare practice. International Journal of Education and Research, 2(4), 37-48.
United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. (n.d.). Racism and public policy. Web.