MUSLIM GPs WON'T TREAT SEX DISEASES

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), August 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

MUSLIM GPs WON'T TREAT SEX DISEASES


Byline: GLEN OWEN

MUSLIM doctors in Britain are refusing to treat patients for diseases that develop as a result of 'sinful' behaviour, The Mail on Sunday reveals today.

They believe certain conditions - primarily sex diseases and AIDS - are ' punishments from God', and say the Koran forbids them from helping sufferers.

It is a view held by only a small minority of Muslims. But there is mounting evidence that such hardline attitudes are being adopted by increasing numbers of medics, particularly those who are training or recently qualified.

Some Muslim students also refuse to accept the theory of evolution or to study abortion, euthanasia and fertility procedures, while female students have insisted on wearing veils to class, contrary to strict rules.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that leading moderates have been touring the country in a bid to convince medical students that it is consistent with the teachings of Islam for them to treat all patients, irrespective of their lifestyle.

Dr Jafer Qureshi, of the Muslim Council's medical committee, said he had been invited to address all 32 of the country's medical schools and had already visited Warwick, Leicester, Birmingham and King's College, London.

He admitted that the beliefs of 'ill-informed, conservative doctors' were a cause of 'great concern' to moderate Muslims.

Some practising doctors were already refusing to treat patients with sexually transmitted diseases, believing that their religion prevents them from helping patients whose problems stem from promiscuity. The treatment ban can even extend to AIDS patients if the doctor believes they contracted the illness from multiple partners or gay sex.

These militant doctors tend to work in inner-city areas with large ethnic populations, such as London, Leeds and Bradford, where sexually transmitted diseases are most prevalent. They pass sufferers on to other GPs or to specialists.

The hardliners cannot be identified or talk about their actions without risking disciplinary action by the General Medical Council, the profession's ruling body.

But the main concern is that the surge in militancy in medical schools is creating a timebomb for the future. The proportion of doctors from ethnic minorities has trebled over the past two decades - more than 30 per cent of British entrants to medical schools now come from minority backgrounds compared with just over four per cent in the population as a whole.

Dr Qureshi estimates that 600 of the 30,000 students in British medical schools, about a tenth of the Muslim intake, believe sexual diseases are a punishment for immorality and intend either to refuse to treat them or only to do so with strong reservations.

'We are very concerned about the number of students who are refusing to learn how to treat the diseases,' he said. 'Some elements have trouble balancing their conscience with the need to treat.' He said opinion was divided among the militants over whether to treat AIDS patients. 'If they have contracted it from promiscuity or gay sex, there is a different view. …

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