The health care crisis in developing countries is real, and this shortage needs to be addressed. Thankfully, there are people like you who are doing what they can to volunteer and help those in need. The only little hiccup to worry about is making sure that you are respectful to cultures and their health-related beliefs. The following tips should help you do that while providing care.
It is important that you understand cultural differences. This means you have to get acquainted with some of the beliefs in the culture that you are attempting to help. For example, there are many cultures in Asia that believe the placenta is valuable, sometimes even holy, so do not treat it as waste like you might in the States. This is just one example, but it should show you just how easily you could offend someone.
Religion is a Big Deal
Many cultures look to religion for many things, including health care and general wellbeing. This is something you should understand when recommending care or medication. You want to get to know the individual’s ties to his or her religion, which could help communicate your recommendations. For example, women of certain religions are raised to be very modest, which makes it hard to examine certain areas of their bodies. It might be wise to contact a clergy member who is sympathetic to medicine to try to bridge the gap and make this a little easier for both of you.
Language is Important
It might be too much to ask, but it is wise for you to learn a culture’s language as much as possible. Some people have an easier time trusting a person who is able to communicate with them through their own language. Granted, some of you are traveling so much that it might be hard to learn all these languages but at least try to get a translator to help you whenever you go to one of these developing countries.
Superstition can be a Factor
Many people in developing countries cling on to superstition to explain certain ailments or issues. This is something you need to be aware of. A person who is telling you that the issue is caused by some entity truly believes this, so it is not wise to contradict them. It is better to say that your recommendations are only meant to help as they continue to practice their own rituals.
These are just some of the things that you have to be aware of when you are helping people from other cultures. Remember that this isn’t something only needed for medical professionals who meet with and interact with patients. Even someone with a medical technology degree working in a lab should be aware of cultural and religious preferences as they are going about their work. As you work towards respecting and understanding others, you will find that it helps make your career even more fulfilling.