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Mountains Beyond Mountains by Kidder

Date:  2021-05-20 04:29:39
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The title Mountains Beyond Mountains presents the imagery of life challenges as presented in a Haitian proverb. The main motif of the book, which is a recurring element employed by the author to develop the literature, portrays the protagonist: Paul Farmer as a priest of a belief system: liberation theology. The belief involved bringing a better life to a huge part of the Haitian demography through providing medical care for the poor people. Through his struggles, Farmer learned that cooperation with peoples cultural belief was crucial to meeting the needs of the people. Dr. Farmer makes a discovery about cost-effective analysis in medicine pricing among international health organizations. The value of drugs was based on its cost and effectiveness. He took action with Jim, who campaigned for the reduction of price on second line medication. Even though most nations have adopted reduced prices for second-line drugs, some of the organizations still inflate the cost of these drugs. However, the same policy created for reduced medication pricing has led to the development of imitation drugs globally (Dye, Christopher and Philippe 13). This paper involves an analytical argument based on the books theme of liberation theology and how peoples cultural beliefs affect their recovery from diseases through medical treatment.

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In chapter 3 of the book, the author narrates that on Farmers list of tasks to completed, he had an item titled: Sorcery consult. It referred to the deep belief in Haitian beliefs that an individual could be made ill through sorcery. This was an experience which Farmer learned that cooperation with peoples belief was an important aspect of meeting the peoples needs. This is further supported in the book, where the author narrates of how he treated a woman with malaria using chloroquine after he explained his role in healing. This was after her father had insisted that she be treated with a Voodoo priest but Farmers explanation made them agree. Farmers approach in medically treating his patients was based on the notion that a doctor who understood the religion of people would find a way to ally with a Voodoo priest rather than fight his ways. In addition, he knew the people in Cange were not interested in having their suffering only examined; they wanted action from the research.

Religion is among the themes that stand out the most in this book. The author speaks of Catholicism and native Haitian religion distinguished by voodoo and sorcery. Farmer frequently encountered villagers who credited voodoo spells for their sickness. He was used to working with Catholic missionaries, so he found this culture quite strange, even though Haiti was mainly Catholic. He also noticed that the villagers practiced sorcery, and incorporated voodoo even in their Catholic practice. For example, they carried handcrafted items to protect themselves against spells. The Haitians believed that evil spirits manifest n people in the form of sickness. They believed in this concept so much that families sent out their loved ones who were sick to live by themselves just to avoid them from spreading the spirits to other people.

Contemporary Cultural Beliefs on Health

Patients health beliefs do indeed have a profound effect on clinical care. They can hinder preventive efforts or complicate medical care thus leading to the use of folk cures, which can be toxic or beneficial. Attitudes about seeking and trusting traditional medicines and treatment based on cultural beliefs are rooted in basic belief systems on illness causation comprising of personalistic, naturalistic, and biomedical. Furthermore, there are various understandings people have about what causes illness from soul loss and witchcraft to germs and weak immunity. For instance, the Western culture views the body as an intricate machine that has to be kept running, and illness is a breakdown of the machine. On the other hand, eastern philosophies view health as a state of equilibrium between the super-natural, social and physical environment.

On personalistic belief system, the cause of illness is usually viewed to emanate from a human being with special powers or a supernatural being. This refers to how some cultures see illness as a form of divine punishment being caused by violating a social norm or breaching a religious taboo. While other cultures see illness as a merely bad luck or karma. Recovery of such illnesses often involves the use of symbolism and ritual, mostly by people specially trained in these arts.

Based on the naturalistic belief system, a persons health is compact with the natural environment, whereby apt balance has to be maintained and harmony protected. A disturbance in the balance results in illness. Naturalistic approaches to health commonly practiced are vitalistic, humoral and ayurvedic. Vitalism forms its basis on the belief that diseases result from the imbalance of the vital energies distinguishing non-living from living matter. Recovery in this system of belief is achieved through acupuncture in China and Yoga in India. The humoral approach in naturalism involves maintaining a balance through observing appropriate activity and diet. Also, regulating an individuals diet according to the seasons.

Biomedicine approach is grounded on body-as-machine metaphor. Its main assumption is that diagnosis and treatment have to be based on scientific data. This approach is not only concerned with the application of medicine, but also the theory, knowledge, and research relating to a disease. In turn, this leads to likely new drugs and a profound, molecular understanding of the mechanisms causing diseases, and therefore lays the basis of all medical application, identification, and treatment.

Cultural beliefs Consideration in Medical Practice

Cultural beliefs have a huge impact on medical practitioners operations around the globe. Rumun suggests that it is only through understanding the beliefs of individuals shall medical practitioners effectively perform medical health care to patients of diverse beliefs (1). Vaughn et. al. emphasizes that medical educators should also teach about interpersonal interactions between patients and physicians so as to narrow the impacts virtually present due to the difference in culture (1). Nonetheless, changes and diversity lead to new possibilities for international interaction and expanding social modalities, and also nay have a fragmenting effect on minorities and marginalized groups where they may experience oppression from dominant groups (Merriam et al., 10).

Herbamas advocated for communicative action so as to become empowered contrary to the hegemonic system. This theory involves daily communication practices thus bringing a mutual understanding within human interactions. On the other hand, Freire called for problem-posing action whereby he encourages people to critically perceive the way they exist in the world; hence, coming to see the world as a reality in transformation rather than a static reality in a changing world (83). Freire refers to this model as a Revolutionary Futurity whereby medical practitioners and patients can learn that customary ideas can be challenged as well as transforming oppressive systems helping them progress and transcend the past.

As for the increasing diversity of cultural beliefs and practices, it is important the medicine field prioritizes these factors in healthcare. Some of the aspects of culture propose ways that contribute to meaningful and successful interactions with culturally diverse individuals at patient-practitioner level, are as follows:

Culture is complex, pervasive and multi-faceted: culture consists of more than race, ethnicity or nationality and is closely related to beliefs and their practices.

Cooperate with people: Interventions, programs and healthcare are most successful if the target population is involved in programs from the beginning so as to establish program development.

Cultural competency is a lifelong struggle: this is because culture is continuously developing, thus impossible for even the best practitioners to know enough about each culture for every person.

Look for information to assist in understanding traditional health beliefs including religious beliefs that impact well-being and health.

Works Cited

Carteret, Marcia. Culturally-based Beliefs about Illness Causation. Dimensions of Culture, 2011, Accessed on 20th August 2016.

Dye, Christopher, and Philippe Glaziou. "The Global Tuberculosis Epidemic: Scale,

Dynamics, and Prospects for Control." Tuberculosis: The Essentials237 (2016): 1

Heslep RD. Habermas on communication in teaching. Education Theory, 2001, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 191-207.

Freire P. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th anniversary edition, New York: Continuum, 2006.

Merriam SB, Caffarella RS, Baumgartner LM. Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide, 3rd ed. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2007.

Rumun, Joyce Akpenpuun. INFLUENCE OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS ON HEALTHCARE PRACTICE. International Journal of Education and Research, Vol. 2, no. 4, April 2014, pp. 37-47.

Vaughn Lisa, Jacques Farrah, Baker Raymond, Cultural Health Attributions, Beliefs, and Practices: Effects on Healthcare and Medical Education. The Open Medical Education Journal, 2009, 2, pp. 64-74.

Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Journal, Volume, Issue, Year, pages.

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