Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), one of the world’s leading centres for treating sick children, recently held an ‘Understanding Arabic Culture’ course in partnership with University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) for the staff of the hospital.
There were two speakers on the day, Jonathan Fryer, a freelance writer, lecturer at SOAS and broadcaster working mainly for the BBC and Middle Eastern television channels and Dr Alanoud Al Sharekh, who is a researcher on youth and gender demographics, GCC security, bi-cultural trends, a specialist on Arab Feminist Theory as well as a Visiting Fellow at SOAS.
Jonathan Fryer gave two presentations to introduce the staff on the course to the Arabian Gulf by giving a brief introduction on the history and geography of the Arabian Gulf before continuing on to talk about the Five Pillars of Islam. Dr Al Sharkeh continued the day with a more detailed look into the society and conventions of the GCC, in particular Kuwait. Dr Al Sharkeh spoke about the importance of the family and honour in Arab society and hosted a very informative discussion with the staff about the differences between healthcare in the UK and Kuwait. The discussion explored why GCC patients and families might have different expectations to UK patients and how to recognise cultural behaviours and the reasons behind them to work with families to make their stay in hospital as comfortable and safe as possible.
The day was well received by the participants who commented that “overall the course was very informative about Arab and Muslim culture and how we can help families in certain situations” and that “It was a wonderful learning experience.” GOSH runs the courses every six months for all staff in the hospital, but in particular those who work with international patients, and hopes to continue to educate their staff on understanding Arabic culture.
Trevor Clarke, Director of International Services, spoke about why the hospital holds ‘Understanding Arabic Culture’ courses. “We understand that travelling overseas for treatment can be a stressful and difficult time, and we strive to make sure that our patients and their family are as comfortable as possible. We therefore believe it is essential for our staff to undertake training to facilitate this and are delighted to continue working with the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies to provide Understanding Arabic Culture courses for our staff.”
Great Ormond Street Hospital in London is recognised as one of the few truly world-class hospitals for children. The International and Private Patient Division at Great Ormond Street Hospital treated over 5,000 patients last year from over 80 different countries, including 2,000 from the GCC. GOSH places great emphasis on the support and care provided for children and families by nurturing an open and supportive atmosphere with interpreters based on every ward and two Muslim Chaplains to meet any spiritual needs as well as other services covering social and psychological needs. Children receive the highest standards of care and attention from the expert team of medical and support staff during their stay at GOSH, and are always treated with respect, trust, concern and openness.