Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Gender Variations in Over-the-Counter Sale of Prescription Medicines in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Gender Variations in Over-the-Counter Sale of Prescription Medicines in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Article excerpt


Ethics is the heart of health (Seedhouse, 2003), and there is an expectation that health care providers and other professionals will adopt a degree of ethics in their professional duties and practice. Throughout the United Arab Emirates (UAE), stories of unethical health care practices continue to be heard and read in the local newspapers unabated. From Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai to Fujairah, stories of unethical health practices have been doing the newspaper rounds regularly (see, e.g., Gulf News, 2011b: 3, 2011c: 2; Yeboah, 2013). This article focuses on one essential issue-over-the-counter sale of prescription-only medication in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its gender dimensions.

There is evidence in the research literature to suggest that gender differences exist in health, criminal justice, psychology, and other areas of human behavior (see, e.g., Yeboah and Brathwaithe, 2010), and this study attempts to establish whether any gender differences exist in the over-the-counter sale and purchase of prescription-required medicines in Abu Dhabi.

The purpose of this study is, therefore, to investigate gender variations in the sale of prescription-only medicines without the necessary prescription in Abu Dhabi, establish the extent to which the practice is perpetrated by males and females, and identify differences in the reasons given by males and females for the practice. Analyses such as these are essential for the development of strategies to eradicate or minimize the practice. This is the rationale behind this study. The point must also be made that the lack of published research literature on health in the UAE, especially ethics in health care delivery, adds to the significance of this article.

Literature Review

Not much exists on ethics and health care, in particular, and population and health, generally, in the published research literature on the UAE. Raven (2002) discussed the intersection of health care organizational ethics, pointing out that health care providers are business organizations with ethical issues. Gulf News (2011a) discussed ethical issues surrounding doctors being remunerated by commission instead of salary, while Gulf News (2011b) reported warnings from health professionals regarding the sale of prescription medication over the counter.

National Newspaper (2011: 1) pointed out the growing problems with waiting lists for various health procedures in the UAE while Yeboah (2007) examined population growth and the demand and provision of health services in the UAE up to 2006. He found that population growth was accompanied by new medical centers and increased number of public and private health services (see also Bener et al., 1993).

Yeboah (2005) compared reproductive health in the Gulf with the Caribbean, noting the vast improvements in maternal and child health in the UAE and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) over the decades. Okaida (2003) examined mental health in the Arab world while Zuhur (2003) focused on women empowerment in the Arab world. Bum et al. (1993) investigated variables affecting health in the UAE, focusing on primary health care. They examined the 1986-91 health strategy and concluded that health care had improved in the UAE. In addition, Matthew (2001) studied obesity in the UAE, indicating that there was a need to target obesity in the UAE. He concluded that obesity has a far greater impact in the UAE than acknowledged. UAE Ministry of Health (2001) presented a professional code of conduct for health professionals, defining clearly what ethical practices were expected from medical practitioners and other health professionals. Ethical issues in health care have not received any attention in the published research literature on the UAE.

Methodologies and Data Sources

A triangulation approach was adopted for the study methodologies. This allowed for diverse analysis of data from at least two or more methodologies to be used in the investigation (see Patton, 1990). …

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