According to the Saudi Ministry of Health, a recent circular has been issued highlighting one of the major problems faced by women patients in Saudi Arabia. The circular address all the male doctors employed in all local and private hospitals to examine female patients in the presence of a female nurse. Al-Hayat daily a local newspaper reported that this action was taken by the senior members of the Ministry of Health after receiving several complaints from the female patients. All the male doctors are directed to carry a checkup of a female patient only in the presence of female and no male doctor is allowed to examine any female patient in the absence of a female nurse.[irp]
The ministry of health did not mention whether this step was initiated as per directed by the Commission for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice (Haia). The matter of imposing this condition on male doctors came into notice as recently a hospital situated in the south of the Kingdom reported about the fight that caught fire between the husband and a wife. The husband got angry when the male doctor tried to examine his wife as she was suffering from severe abdominal pain.
The women’s husband became very aggressive and immediately ordered his wife to leave the hospital without any examination by the male doctor. The women went away with her husband without any treatment. The entire staff at the hospital felt pity for the poor female patient who went along with her husband without any medication.
The medical students whether male or female is allowed to enter and examine female wards as its part of their education and training said Dr. Hashem Arab, working as a Gynecologist and Obstetrician in a local Saudi hospital. Overall, other doctors and consultant are restricted to enter any female examination rooms without the consent of the hospital supervisor and head doctors. But sometimes the male doctors are allowed to examine female patients with their consent in need of severe emergency cases.
Khalid Al-Esaimi a spokesperson representing the Eastern Province Health Directorate, The Ministry of Health has already set a code of conduct document that has to be followed by all the male doctors. The code of conduct comprises of procedures and series of steps that make the examination process easy for both the doctor and the female patients.
He further added the code and conduct document has been sent to all the hospitals and local health centers. And as the procedure, mentioned in the circular are implemented by all the doctors, there is no news of complaints from any female patients.[irp]
The hospital supervisors assure that every male doctor is provided a female nurse while he is treating a female patient. As according to Islamic teachings and Shariah the women are obliged to get treatment only from the female doctors.It is not permissible for the Muslim woman to reveal any of her body parts to any strange male.
Source: Al Arabiya