Amina – The Muslim Women’s Resource Centre aims to empower Muslim women in all aspects of society, without fear of discrimination or inequality. Services include a national helpline where women can get advice on a range of issues. In Dundee, Amina have run a befriending service and worked in partnership with Dundee Carers Centre to provide befriending activities as short breaks for carers.
Mariam is a 37-year old refugee living in Dundee with her husband and 2 young children. She recently relocated to the city with her family following on-going conflict in her home country of Syria. She has been receiving support from Refugee Support Officers, but continues to encounter problems when seeking healthcare. Her English is very limited and when she tried to attend a GP appointment to receive treatment for her worsening headaches, there were no interpreters available. With the help of her Refugee Support Officer, she was able to attend an appointment and the Officer translated the doctor’s English into Arabic. When the doctor started asking her about her moods and stress levels, Mariam declined to answer – she didn’t want her Support Officer knowing about the intimate details of her life. The doctor booked her an external translator for her third appointment to discuss these personal issues, but the translator turned out to be someone she already knew from her local community and Mariam worried the translator would discuss her personal problems with her friends and family. She is also uncomfortable being examined by and discussing her symptoms with a male doctor. The doctor eventually referred her to a specialist but told her it may take some time to be seen, but she didn’t understand why it was going to take so long. She also finds it difficult to make her way to and from the doctor – she finds local bus services really tricky to navigate and understand.
Recently, Mariam’s 3 year old son Ibrahim was experiencing breathing difficulties. She phoned NHS 24 for assistance but the operator couldn’t understand what she was saying. Eventually she called 999 and since the operator couldn’t understand Mariam’s broken English, a police car was sent to their address. When the police eventually arrived, her son’s condition had significantly worsened and an ambulance was sent for immediately. He was successfully treated at Ninewells and sent home shortly afterwards. A health visitor was sent to Mariam’s address the following week to check on Ibrahim, but she was reluctant to let them into the house because she had never met them before and didn’t know why they had visited.
How might we remove some of the barriers to healthcare experienced by people like Mariam and her family?