Arguably, people have different beliefs when it comes to disease, illness, health, birth and death, and all of them depend on culture. Heritage assessment helps one to understand cultural competency, an occurrence that recognizes multiplicity both in cultural and linguistic adeptness by a health care provider. The culture, language, heritage, and beliefs of an individual have a significant impact within the health care system. All the 29 questions in the assessment tool opened up a dialogue about a person’s belief concerning spirituality, illness, health, and family support. All these aspects relate personal values to the individuals themselves. There was diversity among the three compared families, which were of African, Arabic and Irish origins.
Issues dealing with wellness and health centers on health tradition vary according to an individual cultural heritage. The heritage assessment tool has helped to change the focus of healthcare to a proactive one from a reactive point of view. This new standpoint has endorsed prevention of disease and national health.
The current rate of globalization has changed the way cultures interact; there is a mix of different cultures, which was unheard before. This means that cultures can no longer be confined to their usual geographical boundaries. Nonetheless, despite this sudden mix, certain aspects of cultures like relationships, beliefs and religions have remained unchanged. This global social movement has raised awareness regarding health care issues. Perhaps, the cultural setting of a people should have significant effects on the management and governance of issues dealing with health care. The public is now aware of the usefulness of promoting sound health and preventing disease, which has lessened the hardship which health professional were facing in understanding individuals. The heritage assessment tool, therefore, comes in handy in providing the personal attributes to health care experts for health intervention.
Cultural heritage is unique to every human being because cultures have varying features that are not common. Heritage helps to determine religion, ethics, and the way of life of a society in a given geographical background. These unique individual cultures have their own traditional health methods that they use in restoration, maintenance and improvement of health among others. These concepts encompass physical, mental and spiritual beliefs. The way a culture handles their health issues is closely linked to the presets of their heritage.
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It is imperative that health care providers underscore the dynamisms that surround these cultural heritage interactions which are present in modern day circumstances. Furthermore, it is also imperative that they recognize and incorporate these cultural group patterns and differences within the different cultures for the purpose of offering the best possible health care for the good of the society. The heritage assessment tool, in essence, is a checklist that can help health care experts to understand the positions of clients concerning their cultural beliefs before any action is taken. The assessment tool helps in understanding the most suitable procedures that are comfortable to patients. It will help mitigate diseases and alleviate suffering in the most suitable way.
According to Spector (2009), health care plays a central role in making patients as comfortable as possible during and after the whole process. Therefore, understanding trans-cultural settings will help a lot to meet this goal. Such a move will ensure that the interventions measures used are acceptable to the recipient’s culture.
Heritage assessment tool also helps to differentiate the heritage and traditions of different cultures. My Irish background, my traditional beliefs, customs and practices about health are different and specific because of my European roots. Most Irish people are Catholics, and are well known to be friendly and hospitable to other cultures. We are encouraged to seek for medical intervention than to wait for cure. Prayer also plays a major role in our community. We are encouraged to pray when we are sick because it is God who gives healing power to the practitioners. We also believe that sound health is closely associated with a sound mind, body and soul.
The Irish culture is somehow distinct and diverse. People usually focus more on preventing diseases than cure. Great emphasis has been placed on the restoration, protection and maintenance of health via health screenings, vaccinations, and physical examination. These public health services are believed to be important in helping to improve the overall health in our community. The government has also done a lot towards improving the sanitation and hygiene in the communities. The community believes that health education helps to promote health in a tremendous way. It is advisable to go for screening tests early enough, as well as disease detection program for various illnesses including hypertension, diabetes, and cardiac diseases. Ireland has modern facilities in many hospitals that enhance health care in both the private and public sectors. Furthermore, all forms of media like radio, newspapers and television help to educate and motivate the masses regarding health matters. My family is also involved in most practices of our culture. All family members are persuaded to go for early medical checkups, diagnosis, counseling, and also proper treatment. Health care providers are also encouraged to be reliable in their practices. The Irish do not mind going to health care providers of different sexes, it all depends on the preference of the individual who is seeking medical attention.
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Traditional beliefs regarding health in Africa are different from most societies. For example, in Nigeria, they see life as a long life process. They also believe that mental, physical and spiritual qualities are in line with the universe (World Health Organization, n.d.). A person who is in agreement with the universe possesses a sound health. Illnesses are inborn stem from environmental phenomena like heat, dirty food, rain or cold. Just like most African communities, the Nigerian society believes that evil spirits exist and dwell in the air around them. Most of the sicknesses, they believe, come from the demons and evil spirits. Therefore, a sizeable number of them, especially the illiterate ones, visit traditional healers to seek their opinions about the illnesses. In this view, the World Health Organization, in partnership with the Nigerian government, has launched a series of campaigns as well as health education meant to sensitize the public regarding various illnesses, including communicable and non-communicable ones, hence promoting health in the country.
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Cultural beliefs and traditions regarding health in Middle Eastern communities differ from Indian or African communities. Most Arabs are Muslims who believe in various superstitions. For example, they believe that the evil eye can cause certain illnesses. For this reasons, they put on certain incensed perfume or bracelets to protect their bodies from evil eye. Nonetheless, this belief in superstition is decreasing due to the recent rise in the level of education. Most communities in Middle East emphasize that their members should maintain their health by practicing proper food nutrition and hygiene. Most of the young generation goes for medical checkup once they feel sick (Transcultural Nursing, 2008). They believe that disease prevention promotes sound health. Most of Middle Eastern countries are rich because of oil revenue; therefore, the government allocates sizeable amount towards funding the hospital and clinics, which offer free medical care. Their health promotion policies include screening and immunizations in illness prevention and detection. The media also plays a significant role in sensitizing and encouraging people about health restoration.
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Heritage Assessment of three different cultures shows a mixture of diversities and similarities in beliefs and traditions among the countries in the world. For example, men are dominant among some cultures in Asia and Middle East, especially amongst the Indians and the Arabs. In these two cultures, members have to consult with the larger family members before they can make any serious decision regarding their health statuses. They also prefer to go to the same sex health care professionals. Arabs sometimes believe in superstitions as causes of some diseases. Nonetheless, they engage in different cultural beliefs to overcome these causes.
My Irish culture has tremendously influenced my career in medicine. I have grown up as a Catholic. My parents used this faith to shape and guide my life. I have to pray very early in the morning before I start my day, and this routine has strengthened my belief in God. I have also received sufficient professional skills from medicine school. From my point of view, becoming a doctor or health practitioner is very helpful to the society. It is a noble profession that plays an instrumental role in the overall health care. My personal opinions and perceptions regarding health issues relate to my cultural heritage and knowledge from the field of medicine itself.
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Health care experts should understand that health care needs to be specific to every individual regarding cultural values and traditions. According to Edelman & Mandle (2010), heritage is closely linked to powers and strengths in any society. Health care professionals should understand the beliefs, practices, and customs of their patients before they can offer safe and quality healthcare. Notably, people are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy status. Health care that is linked to culture leads to enhanced clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction and improved cost efficiency.
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