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What are the sociocultural determinants of access to health care?

What are the sociocultural determinants of access to health care?

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Culture and access to health care

 

Between the culture of those engaged in humanitarian action and the culture of those who benefit there emerges a rich and complex area of exchange in which the approach to health care takes shape. But sometimes, because of sociocultural diversity, those working in the field are confronted with the complexity of the patients’ behaviour.

Between the culture of those engaged in humanitarian action and the culture of those who benefit there emerges a rich and complex area of exchange in which the approach to health care takes shape. But sometimes, because of sociocultural diversity, those working in the field are confronted with the complexity of the patients’ behaviour.

In order that carers and people are brought together, a decentred outlook is necessary; being acquainted with the Other's culture and maintaining a discerning detachment as regards one's professional approach enables pitfalls and misunderstandings about health programmes to be avoided.

Socio-anthropological researches have, for example, shown that care paths were not made on the basis of individual decisions but through a collective management of health, and this social dimension should be understood in order to comprehend therapeutic pathways.

 

Since 2007, the organisation has therefore decided to work with the support of the French Development Agency (AFD in its French acronym) on thesociocultural determinants of access to health care(SCD). An initiative implemented in line with thoughts and ideas proposed about community participation in health projects. 

The pilot project resulting from it aims to apply to humanitarian action the qualitative methods offered by anthropology and to take into account social and cultural diversity in health matters in order to improve the quality of access to health care

What are the sociocultural determinants of access to health care?

 

Medical anthropology teaches us that the behaviour of benefiting populations in respect of health and illness is determined by a set of rules, values, representations, and traditional knowledge and practices connected to health, which preside over the ways of carrying out and thinking about health care and treatment.

They make up the “sociocultural determinants of access to health care” or “sociocultural determinants of health”.

Because scientific knowledge and lay knowledge, and humanitarian action and traditional practices, collide, and sometimes oppose each other, learning sociocultural questioning surrounding illness in different contexts is essential for us as operators in the humanitarian sector.

The aim of the SCD's approach is therefore to encourage and implement awareness of the sociocultural determinants during the development, piloting, and evaluation of projects.


December 2011

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