Question NW3206 to the Minister of Health

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26 October 2023 - NW3206

Profile picture: Ismail, Ms H

Ismail, Ms H to ask the Minister of Health

(1)With reference to the outcry on the ban on headscarves for nurses, what are the (a) reasons that headscarves would only be banned for nurses and not for other medical professionals and (b) relevant details of any evidence and/or research that shows that headscarves are a source of infection; 2) whether he will furnish Ms H Ismail with a record of decision on why headscarves are reportedly a problem for his department; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?


1. (a) The scope of applicability for the Directives on nurses’ uniform:

    1. only applies to nurses as defined in Section 30 of the Nursing Act, 2005 (Act 33 of 2005).
    2. applies to nurses that are employed in health establishments of the Departments of Health
    3. applies to nurses who are required to wear unform in the execution of their duties and
    4. to those eligible to receive the uniform allowance under PHSDSBC resolution 1 of 2005.

b) The directive on wearing of head scarves and adornments is informed by the regulatory framework of the nursing profession as reflected in the SA Nursing Council regulations. Chief amongst these is the imperative to uphold and portray professional identity and image, in addition to minimising any potential risk to patient safety. The NDOH directives address both these imperatives. Wearing headscarves was vetoed by the nursing stakeholders because it would prevent the standardization of uniform, which is one of the hallmarks of restoration of professional identity and image. The rationale against allowing traditional adornments to be visible while on duty was for Infection Prevention and Control reasons, as it would pose a risk in spreading infections.

(2) A report reflecting a record of these decisions is attached as Annexure A.