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Cultural determinants of Latin Americans

The Latino population in the US is about 14 % (in 2006) and would rise to about 25 % within a few years. This population has very important healthcare needs, and they cannot be ignored as they form a very important part of the population of the US (Caballero, 2006). The incidence rates of diabetes are very high in the Latin American population that resides in the US.

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Hispanics have a high chance of developing diabetes due to genetic predisposition. The occurrence of type I diabetes is similar in Hispanic and Whites, but the prevalence of type II diabetes is almost twice higher.

Environmental factors (associated with urbanization, lifestyle and leading a sedentary lifestyle) tend to impact the manner in which the disease develops and progresses in Hispanics. The outcome of diabetes of Latinos who reside in the US is particularly poor (Caballero, 2006). These rates are especially high in those above the age of 60 year. About 33 % of the female population and about 31 % of the male population suffer from diabetes. The incidence rates could be higher due to a number of unreported cases. At the moment, the Hispanic population is experiencing a lot of problems with relation to accessing the healthcare services in the US.

These include a reduced provision of healthcare services, poor knowledge about the availability of the healthcare services, poor insurance coverage, poor policies framed to cover the healthcare needs of the immigrants, absence of procedures in order to secure the healthcare services, inability to afford the high cost of healthcare, poor transportation facilities, cultural problems that are experienced whilst interacting with the healthcare professionals (difference in language, culture, ethnicity, values, etc), discrimination, fear, etc (Sotomayor, Pawlik & Dominguez, 2007).

Healthcare services are provided at rather inconvenient hours and the transportation facilities, to and fro the healthcare unit is very poor. Some individuals belonging to the Latin Communities fear using the healthcare system as they feel that they get discriminated and deported to their home nation. Individuals belonging to the Latin communities are unable to build a rapport with the healthcare professional (Kaleidoscope). The CDC began to understand that the Latin Communities were unable to obtain effective healthcare services in the US.

Hence, it launched the Latin Education Project in the year 2000 to educate the Latin Communities, make them understand their health problems, encourage health promotion and prevent the development of chronic diseases. The incidences, complications and mortality of diabetes were high in the Texas region of the Latin Communities. The communities had very poor knowledge of their health problems, as they were basically illiterate, uneducated, lived in villages and worked as farmers. Their economic situation was also very poor in the US.

About 42 % of the population that reside in the Coastal Bend Area of Texas is basically Hispanic and a sizeable amount belongs to the elder age group. In some areas, the Hispanic population is about 80 to 90 %, and this would mean that the health problems that arise due to not using the healthcare facilities are even higher. About 28 % of the elder aged-group Hispanic population lives below the poverty line. The unemployment rates are also very high in the Hispanic population (about 6 %).

About 50 % of the population that live in Texas meets with fatal outcomes due to a chronic disease such as diabetes and CVS disease (Sotomayor, Pawlik & Dominguez, 2007). The Latin populations also have a lot of beliefs about healthcare, which affects the manner in which they seek healthcare services in the US. In 4 different parts of the World, Weller et al performed a study in 1999, to determine the beliefs the Latin communities had about diabetes. It was performed in Latin Communities in Connecticut, Texas, Mexico and Guatemala.

A survey tool in the form of a questionnaire was utilized that had about 130 items regarding their beliefs about the cause, characteristics and the management of diabetes. Different populations were utilized to determine the consistency patterns. The study demonstrated that there were homogeneous beliefs in all the four communities with regards to Diabetes. As the incidence of diabetes was higher in the population, so were their knowledge levels of the disease. The cultural knowledge of diabetes was associated with greater educational levels.

Sharing and transmission of knowledge was higher in populations living in developed areas. The cultural knowledge of diabetes seemed to be true and proven through modern medicine. However, there were some wrong beliefs, which existed in the population regarding diabetes. This may be due to a lack of information in a particular area, and could be easily corrected through education. The population was aware that diabetes developed due to the lack or a problem of insulin in the body.

There were also aware of the frequent symptoms of diabetes such as tiredness, frequent urination, dizziness, excessive thirst, visual disturbances, etc (Weller, Baer, Pacher, et al 1999). The Latin populations do not belief in preventive care (which is given a lot of priority and importance in the US). Economic and spiritual factors influence the need to seek preventive medical care. The population may not like to seek unnecessary medical check-ups, as it may be very costly for them. Only if the patients were sick and terribly unwell, would he/she seek medical care.

Hence, they are at a very high risk of developing serious complications that may arise in association with several chronic diseases. Many people end up with fatal outcomes in the hospitals. Hence, they soon begin not to trust the local healthcare providers, and tend to lose confidence in the US healthcare system. The uninsured rates are also very high in the Latino populations. The Latin population believes that curses and spiritual issues could result in the development of illness, and hence, would first seek care from a spiritual healer.

Rituals, local herbs and medicines are utilized to treat the disease, frequently without much success (Kaleidoscope). The Healthcare system in the US is beginning to change in order to meet the needs of the Latino population. Awareness programs are being launched by the CDC, American Diabetic Association, etc, to educate the Latino population of their health problems and the manner in which it is to be addressed. Physicians in certain parts of the US get extra academic benefits if they serve the minority population.

Several organizations in the US are conducting relevant research and studies to identify the factors that could accelerate disease and worsen their health problems. Accordingly, the health system is being modified. Physicians and other healthcare personnel belonging to Latin origins are being recruited in the healthcare system to ensure that the patients can speak in their native language to the professionals. Many organizations are also visiting the Latin populations to identify their health problems and develop a solution for them.

The government and local agencies are also making an effort to provide health insurance coverage for these Latin populations. Transportation facilities that serve the Latin populations are also being improved. The communities are being reassured that they would not be discriminated, abused or deported to their home nation whilst accessing healthcare services. Pictures are frequently utilized at the healthcare unit to ensure proper communication. Brochures and graphics in local languages are utilized to create greater awareness for the Latin populations.

The CDC and other health organizations in the US are creating a separate segment in their websites that would help the Latin population access health information (Kaleidoscope). References: Caballero, A. E. (2006), Culturally Competent Diabetes Care and Education for Latinos, American Diabetic Association, 3(12), 3. http://docnews. diabetesjournals. org/cgi/content/full/3/12/3 Kaleidoscope – Latinos / Hispanics, Retrieved on June 22, 2007, from Kaleidoscope Website: http://cnnc. uncg. edu/pdfs/latinoshispanics. pdf Nelson, K. , Geiger, A. M. & Mangione, C. M.

(2002), Effect of Health Beliefs on Delays in Care for Abnormal Cervical Cytology in a Multiethnic Population, J Gen Intern Med, 17(9), 709–716. http://www. pubmedcentral. nih. gov/articlerender. fcgi? artid=1495105 Sotomayor, M. , Pawlik, F. & Dominguez, A. (2007), Building Community Capacity for Health Promotion in a Hispanic Community, Prev Chronic Dis, 4(1), A16. http://www. pubmedcentral. nih. gov/articlerender. fcgi? artid=1832126 Weller, S. C. , Galzer, M. , Baer, R. D. (1999), Latino Beliefs about Diabetes, Diabetes Care, 22(5), 722-728. http://care. diabetesjournals. org/cgi/reprint/22/5/722. pdf