A good healthcare system is one that can accommodate a population with a diverse composition of cultures. Culture shapes a persons identity. It influences his/her behavior. Healthcare providers must be sensitive towards and understand a patients culture in order to diagnose, manage and treat them effectively.
The interaction between provider and patient is the most important aspect of healthcare provision. Close attention must be given to a patient in order to read nonverbal cues. Some patients may feel uncomfortable when it comes to compliments. A provider who has mastered the skill of effective interaction accurately collects the information needed so that she/he can effectively meet the patients healthcare needs.
There is strength in numbers. That is why communities that share a common culture tend to stick together. This creates a strong support system. It is this system that helps those who need it most. A good example is the Arab community in America. Families also have ties that bind them together. One of those ties is family honor. This is strongly evident in Arab families. An effective healthcare system must be able to understand all these aspects of a community and accommodate them.
Different cultures have varied ways of dealing with their health issues. Some use traditional remedies in conjunction with modern Western medicine. Herbal medicine is still quite prevalent today. Especially in parts of North Africa. Certain traditional and religious practices also pose a challenge to health because the patient will give priority to religion and tradition before Western Medicine. Good principles to providing culturally competent care must incorporate aspects like; patient explanation of his/her condition, any treatments or remedies they have tried and all alternative healers who may have helped. After getting the information, negotiations, interventions and collaborations must be sought so that the patient can get the care that they need.
The Native Hawaiian community has a rich culture. They believe that everything natural is interconnected. Health is as a result of harmony with nature and one becomes sick when they fall out of balance with nature. Life, in any form is important to them. They have a sense of togetherness as a community. Their ancestors referred to as Aumakua are believed to be guardians of the family. Unfortunately this community is no stranger to illness. This is not a surprise because they have no dietary restrictions and their healthcare practices are determined by cultural traditions and religious beliefs. Good health is maintained by following traditional rules and guidance. When it comes to healing, this community adopts a holistic approach. They believe in strong mental health and refrain from taking any medicine that interfere with the mental faculties.
I found their treatment of pregnancy and birth quite intriguing. They have a special treatment of pregnant women. They do not allow them to eat certain foods or wear certain clothing so that they can maintain the health of the mother and the unborn baby. After birth, the naming of the baby is dependent on dreams, visions and signs by the mother. This was very interesting to read and it lead me to a deeper understanding of this culture.
All these traditional and religious beliefs greatly influence healthcare provision. It might be difficult to convince a pregnant woman to take Western medicine if they have a restriction on what they can eat. This community conducts prayers accompanied by fasting, and silence as a form of healing. That poses a challenge when it comes to convincing them of the Western way of healing. They will only take medicines when the affliction causes a lot of discomfort. Because of all these challenges, special skill and care must be employed in order to positively render patient care. The provider must facilitate and incorporate cultural practices in the plan of care. This includes involving the spiritual leader, elders and family members in the process of healing. If a long standing relationship is established between the provider and patient, then it becomes easy to manage the health of the patient. Special care must be taken when treating elders. They are to be accorded the utmost respect due to their status in the community. The balance between healthcare and culture is a delicate one. But with sensitivity and understanding a positive outcome can be achieved.
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