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Barriers To Access Healthcare Among Muslim Women

From the variety of particularities of every health field, it is possible to note that all social classes have equal opportunities regarding accessibility to services. In this regard, one should consider the particular impediments that Muslim women face in acquiring health care services. This activity is necessary because of the complicated link between cultural and religious norms among Muslim people, whose impact on health-seeking behavior can be very significant. A Muslim woman is a mixture of various cultures, consisting of several ethnic groups with different languages and customs. Therefore, analyzing barriers to accessing health care with this population becomes rather complicated because one has to untie some elements that shape their lived realities. The challenges Muslim women face to access health care include cultural, religious, and systemic factors of discrimination and bias; therefore, they require a systematic approach to treatment such that the culture is accommodated.

Religious Barriers

The religious beliefs and practices among Muslim women have a significant influence on their healthcare choices, hence numerous challenges in receiving healthcare. One of the religious challenges associated with fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Fasting from dawn to dusk can change routine health habits such as medication timing and appointment time (Demir et al., 2024). Even during the treatment of disease and preventive care, this may be a challenge as religious practices are given priority over standard health appointments during such a holy period. Some other dietary restrictions dictated by Islamic teaching may also act as barriers to receiving adequate health care.

Language and Communication

The language barrier is one of the most critical barriers in communication between Muslim women and healthcare providers, which can influence the effectiveness of healthcare. Most Muslim women do not speak English as their mother tongue, which makes it difficult to discuss health issues and follow medical instructions (Ahmad, 2020). The mistaken communication may result in the misinterpretation of symptoms, treatment strategies, and the administration of medications, which can affect the quality of treatments. Moreover, hidden elements, such as those of culture and religion, cannot be easily transferred into another language, something that healthcare providers should note.

Systemic Barriers

Healthcare barriers are systemic and affect Muslim women more than anyone else, reflecting broader structural issues. Cost, insurance coverage, and even place may create inequality in health care (Gordon et al., 2020). Economic determinants can also restrict access to health services for Muslim women, particularly those with low socioeconomic status. Furthermore, low insurance coverage and insensitive health policies may lead to poor care. Other geographical obstacles limiting accessibility include a lack of healthcare facilities in some areas.

Discrimination and Bias

Muslim women can be discriminated against and treated with bias in the healthcare setting, which is a reflection of society. The prejudices that some healthcare professionals may have towards Islam due to stereotypes and misconceptions may affect the quality of care. Muslim women could be faced with cultural insensitivity since healthcare practitioners would make assumptions about their values and preferences. Discrimination can take different shapes, including unfair treatment, conduct, or poor cultural competence in medical settings.

Health Initiative

The Massachusetts Nurse of the Future Competencies initiative directly addresses the topic of barriers to accessing healthcare among Muslim women, as it highlights cultural competence as a principal requirement for nursing professionals. The competencies emphasize patient-centered care that is culturally sensitive and integrated (Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Leaders, 2014). To implement the Massachusetts Nurse of the Future Competencies initiative effectively, nurses should undergo comprehensive cultural competency training, focusing on the unique cultural and religious aspects pertinent to Muslim women. Patient-centered care, tailored to individual needs, should be prioritized. Communication tools must consider modesty, language preferences, and gender-specific requirements. Open-mindedness and adaptability are crucial in accommodating religious practices, such as fasting during Ramadan. Patient education empowers Muslim women to express preferences, fostering trust through cultural competence.


Addressing challenges in Muslim women’s healthcare requires culturally sensitive and context-specific approaches. Cultural, religious, and systemic obstacles hinder timely access to services. Healthcare stakeholders must acknowledge and address these barriers to foster a culture that respects diverse practices. Embracing cultural competence fosters trust, communication, and improved well-being. By doing so, healthcare systems can eliminate disparities and ensure equal access.


Ahmad, F. (2020). Still ‘ In Progress?’–Methodological Dilemmas, Tensions and Contradictions in Theorizing South Asian Muslim Women 1. In South Asian women in the diaspora (pp. 43-65). Routledge.

Demir, Ö. F., Levent, F., & Erkoç, E. İ. (2024). Does Ramadan Fasting Affect Cardiac Functions In Patients Followed With Coronary Artery Disease?

Gordon, T., Booysen, F., & Mbonigaba, J. (2020). Socioeconomic inequalities in the multiple dimensions of access to healthcare: the case of South Africa. BMC Public Health20(1), 1-13.

Massachusetts Organization of Nurse Leaders. (2014). The Massachusetts Nursing Core Competencies: A Toolkit for Implementation in Education and Practice Settings. Retrieved from


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