Nov 8, 2017 in Sociology

Cultural Diversity in Health and Illness

The world around us is changing rapidly and the alterations can be observed in every aspect of our lives. An important step that the human kind has made is the realization of benefits and further developments that can come from embracing diversity. This is especially true in medicine, where variety is the dictator of both health care practice and its organizational rules.

In order to understand the core of functioning and structure of health care system, it is essential to make an attempt in comprehending it through someone else’s eyes and experience. It will emphasize advantages as well as disadvantages and expose the fields that require attention and improvement. This research paper is devoted to the culture and health beliefs of Saudi Arabia, as well as expectations and real life experiences of this country’s representatives related to the health care system in the United States.

The Saudi Arabia is a culturally rich kingdom dominated by the religion of Islam. Traditions, beliefs, and customs are greatly influenced by the Wahhabism sect of the Muslims. The impact of religion sets the trend for taking care of one’s body while health is considered to be one of the most important aspects of human life. People in Saudi Arabia are following a strict code that bans eating pork and consuming intoxicating drinks, while generally promotes healthy diet and lifestyle as religious duties and requirements. Traditionally, medicine in the kingdom is relying on natural treatment options, herbal medications, acupuncture, homeotherapy, and spiritual cures. In the past, cauterization and treating specific hurting part of the body with heat were widely popular as well while reading certain special parts of Koran was believed to treat mental health disorders. Nowadays, however, some of the traditional approaches to health care are not practiced as modern Western views have been spreading widely and are utilized by the majority of the society. There are both private and public medical facilities founded across the kingdom with the best and newest technologies. At the same time, people are not obligated to receive medical health care in Saudi Arabia: they obtain the right and are supported by the government to get required treatment abroad.

One of the major advantages of health care system in Saudi Arabia is the nationalization of it: every citizen of the country is enabled to receive free medical treatment. The only negative side of this is that there could be some time before visiting the medical professional and being treated. Despite that, once an individual passes the waiting phase, the medical services are exceptional and the necessary medications are free. That is why, in most cases, expectations of the Saudi individuals are very high when it comes to quite costly health care services in the US. Unfortunately, in America insurance companies seem to be the ones setting the rules and the health care ‘arena’ became more of a business field, which is one of the realities Saudis have to encounter.

One of the most important customs in Saudi Arabia is for women to cover themselves by wearing hijab, which is the head cover, and niqab, which is the face cover that only allows for eyes to be seen. Despite the fact that health care system in the United States embraces diversity and makes sure that both patients and medical professionals are feeling comfortable in the working environment, it is not entirely possible for a female doctor to wear niqab in the United States, which could have an impact on the relationship between the doctor and the patient. At the same time, the relationship of a male doctor and a female patient is complicated due to the fact that females are not supposed to be touched by males. In Saudi Arabia all these traditions are followed, while in America, although respected, they do not have enough space as doctors see the primary and most significant goal in solving the health issue above anything else.

Medical professionals in the United States are more focused on the financial issues of the medical problem, which makes them more distant and less approachable for Saudi patients. While medical professionals in Saudi Arabia may give their phone numbers to their patients or visit them after working hours, in contrast, physicians in America are much more likely to solve the problem right away and remain all about business.

Another differences in experiences of Saudi, is that in Saudi Arabia patient’s opinion is not taken into consideration by the medical professionals and patients are usually unaware of what their condition is or what their therapy methods are. In American health care system, patients are closely connected to the process of treatment. They are assumed to be the most important part of the entire medical treatment process. That is why medical professionals in the US make sure to explain and educate the patient about the illness. They propose the options for treatment, which directly involves the patient into the process.

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