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Dealing with the Southeast Asian American in the Health Care Setting
In a health care setting, working with the Hmong group within the Asian Americans would be the most difficult task. This is attributed to the fact that the Hmong still believe in and use traditional remedies that they brought from their home country. There are several reasons as to why they refuse to use western medicine, but continue adhering to their traditional one. It can be attributed to their communication and economic barriers. This barriers result in many Hmong immigrants eventually losing their trust in the American medicine.
Additionally, various Southeast Asian belief systems negatively perceive such aspects as hospitalization, surgery, and several other western medical practices. Some of the Hmong remain skeptical of insidious practices such as surgery since they believe that incisions may cause good spirits to depart from their bodies and bad spirits enter them. The Hmong are known to disregard preventive healthcare and treat it as unnecessary. In my daily interaction with them, I noted that they normally prefer to rely upon their traditional treatments or their own herbal medicine as opposed to the prescribed medication or surgery. Due to their strong traditional belief, the Hmong think that illness can be caused by either non-spiritual aspects, which they believe can be dealt with by indigenous traditional cures, or it can be caused by spirits. Their spiritual treatments comprise of rituals, religious ceremonies, prayers, and chants.
Further, the Hmong believe that the spirits of ancestors that live in and around a particular person may inflict illness on that person if he /she partakes of a bad deed or offends the ancestor in any way. They, therefore, attribute some illnesses to this belief and perform certain rituals in order to bring back the presence of the ancestor and restore the health of that person. For instance, the Shaman (a medicine woman or man that has access to the spiritual ancestors) might perform a ritual to bring back an ancestor and restore the person’s health.
Barriers Faced by the Group in Accessing Equitable Healthcare in the US
This cultural group faces several barriers in their access to a proper medical care. The key among them are religious barriers to quality healthcare. For instance, in their religion, a woman cannot be attended by a male doctor and vice versa. Cultural difference also stands as another obstacle to a proper health care. Owing to this, few Southeast Asian Americans receive education on the diagnosis and protection of some diseases. The percentage of South Asian Americans who have stomach cancer is the highest as compared to other regions; this is due to the fact that they live in isolated communities. This group is believed to under-use healthcare system in America for reasons such as distrust to the western medicine, lack of awareness about the medical methods in America, ignorance of healthcare providers, limited financial resources, and lack of a good understanding of the illness.
Specific Actions to Be Taken to Ensure Equitable Care for This Group
In order for a patient from the discussed group to receive a proper medical care, they need to be educated on the importance of the western medication and its advantages over traditional medicine. The patient should then be advised on the dangers of ignoring western medication and the benefits that come with it. If the patient is not able to afford the medical care, arrangements must be made to ensure they access it anyway. The engagement and outreach of the society can also come in handy. A healthcare structure that is culturally proficient may enhance the value of care, health results, and can also take a major part in eradicating cultural health inequalities and ensure that every person accesses equitable health care.
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