Access to healthcare is at the core of our values and work, and it challenges our personal and our professional ability to respect and listen to others. Far from being universal, access to care strongly depends on the standards, values, knowledge, and cultural representations specific to each community; and the way illness is considered may differ from one society or culture to another: this cannot be ignored.
The way illness is considered may differ from one society or culture to another.
In the field of public health, scientific knowledge and traditional wisdom and practices are sometimes conflictual, which can in turn run counter to humanitarian relief efforts. Attitudes of patients and families regarding health vary from one country to another depending on their culture and their social background. Prevailing norms, values, conceptions and practices determine how people view and provide care.
Such considerations need to be taken into account in order to provide proper humanitarian aid. Understanding cultural differences, taking critical distance from one’s own professional stance, being mindful of the social and cultural diversity of patients, are as many keys to improving access to quality and effective care.