It seems that the spoken language is a massive concern for many. However, let's look at this from a different way. Language varies by culture; however, the practice of Medicine remains the same. Additionally, just as we have research and development in the United States, other countries also have research and development. Shortening the links between cultures helps us share medicine cross culturally in the hopes that we all benefit from a community of providers who all have the same purpose; to promote human life.
What about organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO)? What benefits do you see with this group? Can anyone think of any ethical concerns that exist due to international medicine?
How would an organization mission and vision statement help with these culture gaps? Look at training hospitals as a starting place.
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One of the main reasons why spoken language is so crucial in the practice of medicine is because of its ability to promote understanding and avoid misinterpretation. However, due to language barriers, there are misunderstandings that result from different perceptions. The reasons for these different perceptions are often culturally-based. This is why it is so important to have regulatory bodies, internationally, that can bridge gaps leading to mutual acceptance. The World Health Organization (WHO) would be one such body and training hospitals, often funded via the WHO, are a link between citizens of all nations as they can provide doctors trained in more that localized problems to offer expertize on an international level which is not centered on the developed world and its problems. Medical practitioners must be held accountable for their actions and, especially in research, there are subjective elements that creep into even the most scientifically-based research as one country has, for example, a pressing need to find a cure for malaria whereas another has an interest in the mosquito itself, causing potential disagreement about funding and time scales and testing. Having training hospitals alleviates difficulties like these as they are able to practice medicine and do research in a complementary fashion.
Therefore, the WHO brings international medicine to developing countries which would otherwise have no funds to start or manage research. Barriers in education levels, whilst not affecting the medical practioners themselves, do affect the patients. Organizations like the WHO ensure that patients are not abused or misled into thinking they can be cured when part of a trial or when using a relatively new therapy or drug. The WHO sets standards that countries can use to measure their own development and hospitals can make findings based on these standards and problems can be identified and remedies found without tragic consequences.
An example of a huge cultural issue which threatens health and life-saving programs exists in the promotion of birth control (generally) and the controversial use of abortion as a means of birth control. Mistrust of systems develops, especially in poorer nations where, historically, children are a sign of wealth. By suggesting a restriction on the number of children a family should have, there is the (irrational or otherwise) argument that the so-called West is trying to create a culturally unsound environment, making poor people more reliant on westernized countries and therefore stripping them of any independence. They would rather have high mortality rates than take the risk.
It seems therefore that, although medicine itself is universal, the practice of medicine is not necessarily so. Religious and ethical grounds for refusing medical care are often not understood or accepted by doctors whose ethics requires them to save a patient whereas the patient's ethical stance prevents what he sees as medical interference. Having a vision statement and an organizational mission allows for trust to develop between patient and doctor as misunderstandings can be minimized. The doctor's ethics become intrinsically linked to any patient's ethics and mutual decisions can be made to suit any moral issue. In training hospitals more can be done to educate medical professionals who can be taught to recognize patient sensitivities and cultural differences ensuring that both sides know where they stand at all times.
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