Free medical services, including immunization, outpatient treatment and hospitalization, were first established in 1925. The wealth gained from oil has since helped finance the expansion of Bahrain's system of social services and health care system. The advances in health care in Bahrain have increased life expectancy and lowered the infant mortality rate. Infectious diseases such as smallpox, trachoma and dysentery, as well as tropical diseases such as malaria and diphtheria, have been eradicated.

Bahrain's public health care system includes general medical care, maternity care, dental care, orthopaedic care, paediatric care and psychiatric care. Treatment is free to Bahraini citizens. Some services are free to foreign residents as well.

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Local folklore maintains that henna strengthens the hands and feet and helps to prevent balding. For ceremonies and special occasions, Bahraini women decorate their hands and feet using henna.

The largest public hospital in Bahrain is the 1,000-bed Salmaniya Medical Centre, which opened in 1978. Most of Bahrain's physicians work at this hospital. Regional health centres provide diagnostic services, minor surgery, dentistry, prenatal and postnatal care, and general family medical care. There are also several child welfare centres. The maternal and child health-care program provides primary and preventive care, as well as health and nutrition education. There are no restrictions on the use of contraceptives, and abortion is allowed for health reasons.

Bahrain also has private hospitals. The American Mission Hospital, operated by the United States-based Arabian Mission of the Dutch Reformed Church, is the oldest hospital in the country and one of the oldest in the Gulf. Many members of the country's elite were born there, and they continue to visit the hospital when they need medical care. The newer International Hospital also caters to private patients.

The government established a social security system in 1976 that includes pensions, sick pay, unemployment benefits, worker's compensation, and maternity and family allowance payments. Only Bahraini citizens are eligible for retirement pensions, but both nationals and foreign workers are insured against accidents.

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Most Bahraini women who work in the health profession are nurses. However, under Islamic law a woman may not be examined by a male doctor, so the government has encouraged the training of female doctors.