Model of Health: Are Islamic Approaches to Healthcare Viable for the Developed World?

A presentation at Dr. Danika Tynes, Ph.D. in in Atlanta, GA, USA by Dr. Danika Tynes, Ph.D.

Across the board, Islam is assumed to be characteristic of underdevelopment and almost synonymous with lack of modernity with little to no contribution to the modern world or how it is shaped (Esposito, 1999). However, just as modernity cannot be ignored by developing countries, the influence of the globalization of Islam cannot be shut out. In spite of these prevailing considerations of Muslim countries, this paper contends that the United States (i.e., a component and influencer of Western civilization) may be adopting several core Islamic principles in its healthcare reform and may do well to better understand the cultural characteristics that underlie the natural state of health that is a way of being in the Muslim communities that continue to grow. Herein, health policies of Muslim countries will be compared to those of the United States (U.S.). Nations are more similar in their focus on healthcare than any other function of government and the inclusion of morality in policy is more likely to appear in healthcare than any other realm (Carpenter, 2012). Islam purports that one’s health is a significant priority and it is one’s obligation to treat the body well, such as to eliminate parasites from pork in the diet, eschew liquor to maintain awareness of divine action at all times, or take proper medications when the need arises (Heyneman, 2004). Key messages delivered through Islam, such as the focus on preventive care over curative care, ambulatory care over hospitalization, and public P a g e | 3 care organizations over private ones are premises that are newly being adopted in major legislation in the United States (ibid). Islam’s attention to the connectedness between policy and religion as displayed in its guidance for healthcare, may provide some insights into the current transformations in global healthcare. This paper will review Islam’s religious references and guidance to achieving better health, document health policies enacted within Muslim countries, and compare such polices to those being implemented in the United States (U.S.). The research will seek to unfold whether commonalities exist and a framework can be started based on central tenets that could lend to a global healthcare structure that is not polarized by civilizational differences. Using case studies and longitudinal data on key healthcare indicators, this research will explore commonalities and divergences in health in the U.S. and in Arab nations.