Culture refers to the beliefs, values and traditions at the heart of a certain group’s responses, behaviours and practices. In the context of health and illness, cultural awareness requires all people, including governments, medical professionals, social services and community groups involved in promoting well-being to understand and appreciate how culture affects people’s proclivity and ability to prevent, test, disclose, monitor and adhere to treatment for HIV, viral Hepatitis and TB.
At EATAN we are motivated to empower and support Africans living in Europe to engage in safer practices to avoid contracting communicable conditions, to screen for these conditions, to access monitoring services, to consistently and correctly adhere to their treatment and to disclose their status to sexual or drug injecting partners.
Africa does not refer to one culture. Instead, Africa encompasses a population of over 1 billion people; with people of varying ethnicities, including black, Indian and Arab; following a range of religions, such as Christianity, Islam, Baha’i, Hinduism, traditional; speaking hundreds of languages; those who follow monogamy and others polygamy; as well as differing ages, genders and sexualities. Therefore, Africans who are living in Europe consist of a variety of cultures, beliefs and customs that will affect their responses to health and illness.
In order to support Africans living in Europe to prevent and live well with HIV, viral Hepatitis and TB, EATAN has devised a series of recommendations that can enhance their ability to engage in prevention, screening, monitoring and treatment adherence.
1 . CULTURALLY RELEVANT AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS
EATAN compels European governments to invest in public health campaigns concerning HIV, viral Hepatitis and TB that reflect and are specifically targeted towards the range of cultural beliefs, practices and traditions of Africans living in Europe.
2 . TRAINING HEALTHCARE WORKERS ABOUT THE CULTURAL RESPONSES TO ILLNESS
EATAN promotes cultural awareness to be included in the curriculum of trainee doctors and nurses, as well as continuing professional development.This includes understanding the perspectives of Africans living in Europe and their psycho-social responses to prevention, diagnosis and treatment; and encouraging patients to incorporate their own traditions into the recovery process where safe to do so.
3 . HEALTH PROVIDERS TO FOSTER LINKS WITH COMMUNITY GROUPS
EATAN encourages HIV, viral Hepatitis and TB clinics to understand the demographic of its service users and to develop connections with community groups who can offer insight, knowledge and advice regarding the particular culturally-based reactions to health and illness.
4 . BREAKING LANGUAGE BARRIERS BETWEEN CLINICIANS AND PATIENTS
Where necessary, clinics must provide their patients interpreters who can facilitate confidential and effective consultations, and not rely on patients’ relatives or friends to perform this role.