Healthcare Provider and Faith Diversity

The healthcare sector remains one of the most diverse and dynamic sectors in the economy. The diversity relates not only to the service providers but also to the customers and clients. Service providers in this case refer to the institutions (including hospitals and clinics) and the individuals (doctors, nurses, etc) who play a role in tending to and taking care of the ill. The clients refer to the patients and their families (generally all citizens). Diversity witnessed in the sector encompasses an array of factors, including religion, language, culture, ethnicity and background among other factors. With this in mind, it is necessary that all who are in one way or another involved in the health sector be dynamic and open-minded. Such an attitude enhances tolerance and enables the stakeholders have a conducive atmosphere for according and receiving medical services (Trafzer 2001). More particularly, different faiths have their views, opinions and reservations with regard to administration of healthcare services. In a multi-religious community, it is only fair that each religion be accorded services as acceptable by the demands of their faith. Further, it is vital that all stakeholders in the healthcare sector for a harmonious co-existence know the demands and the wishes of all religions. For this to be achieved, looking at a number of these religions and their beliefs is important for further understanding.

Christianity is one of the oldest religions and has the highest number of followers. That in essence means that Christians are found in all corners of the world. Christian beliefs as regards health provision are by no means uncommon. They believe in God who has the power to heal all kinds of diseases. All a Christian has to do is pray and at the right time, his or her prayers will be answered. In addition, Christians have less stiff rules as regards provision and reception of medical services (Pellegrino 1996). According to their teachings, the faithful are advised to seek artificial treatment from doctors while at the same time maintaining their spiritual connection with God.

Native America is a group of small tribes, which are the indigenous occupants of America. The group includes American Indians and the Alaskans among many other smaller tribes. This group of people has been widely known for their reluctance in accepting modern medicine. However, these perceptions are increasingly ending. Native American spirituality requires faithful to seek other forms of healing before indulging in modern medicine (Trafzer 2001). They frequently use traditional herbal medicine to counter the effects of illnesses. In addition, they conduct rituals to cleanse the patients and restore them to spiritual purity. Their belief that illness is a consequence of spiritual impurity leads them to view medication as more of a process of spiritually healing the person than curing the patient from the disease (Trafzer 2001). Certain diseases, especially congenital anomalies are perceived as punishment to the parents of the affected child, probably due to an unacceptable lifestyle in their earlier days. Traditional healers are frequently sought for to help in treating and managing diseases.

Shinto is an old Japanese religion (its qualification as a religion has been the subject of debate and is at times considered a spirituality) dating back to centuries ago. It has a huge following in Japan with more than eighty thousand shrines erected for the members to worship in. the religion has, however, spilled over to the United States where a substantial number of Japanese are found. Shintoism as a faith involves the worshipping of a deity called kami (Morrison 1990). According to Shinto faithful, kami has the ability to give and take life and to heal the sick. In this context, cases of illnesses are considered treatable with the help of kami. However, in the event of a person’s demise, the Shinto followers regard the person as unclean and impure and, therefore, refuse to be associated in any way with a dead or decaying person or thing. Shinto faithful have a firm belief that any qualms and requests meant to reach the ears of kami are not to be taken by any ordinary man but through a medium, a healer. For this reason, they never presented their cases directly to kami. This long-held belief has shaped the activities of Shinto faithful up to date. It is not uncharacteristic to find many Shinto followers leaving their medication regimes in the hands of physicians (Morrison 1990). The faithful have faith in spiritual intercession and herbal medicine. Most notably, they have been receptive of the ongoing changes in the medical field.

The Sikhs are about half a million in number in the nation (Chilana 2005). They generally regard health as a gift from God (whom they call Waheguru). Illness is also presumed to be the work of God (Chilana 2005). However, they are more tolerant and accepting of modern medicine. The Sikh faithful are taught to seek Waheguru’s help in times of ailments. Further, they are advised to not only rely on God to heal them but also to make it a point of obtaining medical assistance. Sikhs are staunch in their faith and it is common to find an ailing Sikh listening to gospel hymns (called Keertan) while on the bed (Chilana 2005). They allow blood transfusion but are unsupportive of assisted suicide. Abortion is deemed unacceptable unless in certain special situations. Organ transplant is also allowed. However, keeping a patient in a coma on artificial life support machines is not highly regarded.

From the four religions discussed, it remains clear that some religions exercise some level of variation in their views and perceptions regarding healthcare provision. Most of the religious groups highlighted do not have an issue with someone of a different religious affiliation according them medical care. This is attributable to the revolution that is taking effect in the medical field. The belief that seeking the help of a deity in case of an illness can lead to recovery cuts across all the religions though.

From the research, it is clear that most religions are embracing modernity while at the same time maintaining some of their cultural beliefs. In this light, blending of both modern and traditional herbal medication together with spiritual intercession is vital in streamlining the recovery process of a patient.