Catholic Hospital forces Muslim nurses against Hijab
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Tension is mounting between the management of St Gregory Catholic Hospital at Gomoa-Buduburam in the Central-Region, and its Muslim nurses over the wearing of Hijab by the Muslim nurses.

While the management is prohibiting the wearing of Hijab, which is the Islamic veil or hair cover worn by female Muslims, the nurses are resisting the prohibition, insisting on their right to freedom of religion and its expression.

Currently, a total of 12 Muslim nurses who were posted to the hospital by the Ghana Health Service, have been ordered to stop wearing the Hijab, otherwise they would be prevented from working in the hospital.

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Rev Father Paul Annan
Rev Father Paul Annan

The management claims it is implementing an existing policy by the National Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which prohibits the wearing of the Hijab by workers in the church’s over 130 health institutions due to safety reasons.

The order to the nurses has triggered a series of petitions by Muslim leaders to the management of the hospital, National Catholic Secretariat, Ghana Health Service and Ministry of Health.

For instance, a petition dated April 27, 2023 by the Gomoa Buduburam Zongo Chief, Sariki Nuruden Khalid, to the hospital, Ministry of Health and the National Chief Iman, yielded no positive result as the management maintains that the wearing of the Hijab violates the hospital’s policy.

The latest petition dated May 25 is by Ibrahim Mohammed Asamoah, an Islamic leader, to the Health Minister, and copied to the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, National Chief Imam among others, is calling on the intervention of the State to protect the constitutional right and freedom of the nurses.

According to the nurses (names withheld), some of whom have served at the hospital for over 5 years, they were not informed about the prohibition before their commencement of work.

They said the hospital didn’t have any issue with their Hijab over the years, until recently when their new Matron, madam Mercy, who took office a few months ago, started insisting that they stopped wearing the Hijab.

Rev. Father Paul Annan, Chaplain in charge of the hospital, when contacted, confirmed the policy, saying the matron is only implementing an existing policy.

“She is not doing anything new,” he said, claiming that Muslim nurses in all other Catholic health facilities, adhere to the policy against the wearing of Hijab, adding that the Hijab is not part of the prescribed dressing code for their health workers.

Giving the reasons as explained in the prohibition policy, Rev Father Annan, said the wearing of hijabs in the hospitals poses a danger to the nurses and patients.

He said “it can scare patients who may become hysterical and frightened in the process, and patients may hold on to the hijabs and use the same to strangle those wearing them.

On why the Muslim nurses are not informed of the policy before commencing work, he noted that the dressing code is usually explained to new workers during orientation.

In 2019, the Ghana Health Service, following disputes of the wearing of Hijab by health workers, issued a statement reminding managements of health facilities of the existing GHS policy that allows the wearing of Hijab by Muslim health workers.

Similarly, the Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority in 2019, issued a directive for Muslim workers in the psychiatric hospitals to be allowed to wear their Hijab.

By Edmund Mingle/