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Cultural diversity is a sensitive topic worldwide; therefore, cultural competence is inevitable in all economic sectors. In the health sector, it is useful as it enhances good relationship between the health service providers and consumers. There is a need for an establishment of cultural competence in the healthcare sector. The integration of cultural competence approaches in most healthcare institutions is still desired. Several researches reveal different factors in the healthcare sector that pose barriers for health providers. This essay, therefore, discusses what the cultural competence is, some of the barriers in addressing to it, and the importance of its awareness in the health care sector.
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Keywords: cultural competence, healthcare sector, health service providers, consumers.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (2013), cultural competency is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enable effective work in cross-cultural situations. Culture refers to the integrated patterns of human behavior, for example, language customs, beliefs, values, religious doctrines. On the other hand, competence is the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities (The US Department of Health & Human Services, 2013).
The major barriers towards addressing cultural competency include: stereotyping, which is the association of a group of people with a certain habit; racism, which is biased treatment on the basis of one’s race, for example, segregating black people; discrimination, which is biased treatment based on an individual’s inability, for example, a visually impaired person; and lastly is prejudice (Anderson, 2013).
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Cultural competence should be included in the school curriculum on every level of education in the USA. This should be done in order to impart a wide cultural knowledge in the conscience of every US citizen. This will help people to deal with the cultural challenges they will face in their lives.
It is important that all health care professionals be aware of cultural competency due to the following reasons. Firstly, it contributes to the reduction of health disparities, as well as to the increase in the access to high quality healthcare (National Instiitutes of Health, 2013). Secondly, health officers deal with culturally diverse patients, so they have to be aware of the issue. A doctor or a nurse who is aware of cultural competency communicates well with a patient without any hindrance that may be caused by cultural differences.
As a health professional, I would encourage the equal treatment of all patients regardless of their race or cultural beliefs, for example, by means of giving them equal access to health facilities or admitting all patients, regardless of their beliefs, in the same ward. As a professional, I would also encourage and participate in research activities held by the other groups and agencies, contribute to identifying of the other links between reductions in health disparities and appropriate delivery of health information and health care.
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As the world grows smaller (due to the process of globalization), each and every individual in every economic sector needs to be culturally competent. Globalization has led to the increased interaction between different people with various cultural practices. Lack of understanding and respect for diverse cultures will lead to cultural conflicts; therefore, professionals in each and every field ought to be culturally competent.
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