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Social Determinants Of Health In Aborigines

2334 words - 9 pages

Aboriginal health is majorly determined by several social factors that are related to their cultural beliefs. Health professionals regularly find it difficult to provide health care to aboriginal people due to the cultural disparity that exists between the conventional and aboriginal cultures, predominantly with regard to systems of health belief (Carson, Dunbar, & Chenhall, 2007). The discrepancy between the aboriginal culture and typical Western customs seems to amplify the difficulties experienced in every cross-cultural setting of health service delivery (Selin & Shapiro, 2003). Most of the social determinants of the aboriginal health are due to their strict belief in superstition and divine intervention.
Firstly, gender disparity plays a significant role in aboriginal health, especially in the administration of health care. In Aboriginal culture, there are certain health practices that can only be done by either men or women, but not all (Bonvillain, 2001). In most cases, women are treated by their female counterparts whereas male doctors handle male patients. This means that a male doctor cannot undertake a vaginal inspection and a female nurse cannot teach an aboriginal man about self-catheterization. As a result, a breach of this traditional gender division, for instance a male doctor helping a woman in emergencies, is likely to cause shame, distress, depression, and fear of breaking a particular taboo (Freud, 2000).
Secondly, the customary health beliefs of the aboriginal populace are interrelated with numerous characteristics of their customs such as kinship obligations, land policies, and religion (Boulton-Lewis, Pillay, Wilss, & Lewis, 2002). The socio-medical structure of health beliefs, which the aboriginal people hold, stresses much emphasis on spiritual and social dysfunction being responsible for ill health (Shahid, Finn, Bessarab, & Thompson, 2009). This approach puts much emphasis on the fact that the well-being of an individual is always dependent on the successful emancipation of obligations to land and the society (Boulton-Lewis, Pillay, Wilss, & Lewis, 2002). This implies that the aboriginal culture regards an individual’s social obligation and responsibilities much higher than a person’s state of health. Breach of a taboo or failure to uphold certain social obligations is believed to be one of the main sources of illness (Warry, 2008). Consequently, a person would rather seek to appease the spirits in case of a serious infection instead of seeking medical attention (Shahid, Finn, Bessarab, & Thompson, 2009). This can lead to a serious health effect on the life of such aborigines.
The socioeconomic status of the aboriginal people has been a major social determinant of their health (Dowd, Chong, Nixon, & Gray, 2010). This status includes factors such as unemployment, poor income, run-down housing, and poor education, all pointing to adverse levels of poverty. The indigenous Australians, for instance, have always been...

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