DA Member of Parliament Haseena Ismail says her party will submit written parliamentary questions to the Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, regarding his department’s proposed ban on headscarves for nurses at public health institutions.
Ismail claims the DA has received numerous complaints regarding the proposed amendments to the nurses’ dress code that seemingly discriminates against Muslims’ constitutional rights.
Proposed changes to the nurse’s uniform policy were first communicated to provincial heads of departments in July.
Honey Allee, nursing director at the Islamic Medical Association of South Africa, said they were concerned that this might discourage Muslim women from pursuing a career in nursing.
Ismail said Phaahla needs to explain why doekies would only be banned for nurses and not other medical professionals, and provide the record of the decision for the proposal, as well as specific scientific evidence the decision is based on.
According to the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), the Department of Health’s circular was the opposite of what was presented by the Department to Labour at the Public Health Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council (PHSDSBC) earlier this year, “that the headscarves won’t be included in the uniform and that if they have to be worn on religious grounds the colour must be white and that it shall be bought by the official concerned.”
“Therefore, it is our view that the circular by the department misrepresents what has been presented to labour at the PHSDSBC,” Denosa stated.
“It is not only the Muslim community that this dress code would be excluding.
“There are also Christian churches, like the Shembe church which is dominant in the KZN area where women are expected to cover their heads.”
Following the backlash, the Department of Health said it is reviewing its proposed dress code policy for nurses.