Welcome to the Body with Shine (BWS) blog and we are dropping this article to give you a feel of how we all will be behaving and what is expected on this platform.
BWS will not be your regular blog where you bored person would come to troll and drop inappropriate comments. This is a health blog and sometimes we are going to be talking about subjects that are very sensitive for some people. If you can’t drop your opinion without judgement then read, nod and carry on.
We already know that Nigeria is a conservative society, with a holier than thou set of people. Our cultures and behaviors are intertwined with our religion. Hence, there are so many topics that are off limits in our society like mental illness, sex, abortions etc. and these issues create a domino effect end up eating away the fabrics of our culture, making a mockery of it.
If you remember your social studies classes, culture can be defined as behaviors that identify members to be part of a group. Culture is the patterns of ideas, customs shared by a particular people or society. It may include some or all of the following:
- Socio-economic class
- Sexual orientation
- Age etc.
Culture is dynamic, always changing, passed down from generations and shared by those that agree with the same ideology (we as human beings always find their “crew” so as not be the odd one out).
Both health professionals and patients are influenced by their respective cultures when it comes to how they handle health issues. For example, when a gay patient walks into a typical Nigerian hospital, they would be treated with malice and judgement and may end up not given the best possible care by a health care professional that is highly against his lifestyle. In return this may cause people in need of serious medical attention to shy away from hospitals because of how they were treated.
Our culture has a huge impact on our health and health care systems, for example:
- What we believe is the cause of the disease. For instance, your fever and constant vomiting maybe your villagers using your picture for football, or karma from the bad thing you did.
- Which disease/ condition are stigmatized. Like in our country without much awareness on mental illness, can see a depressed person visiting a therapist and tag him crazy.
- Our culture affects the type of health promotion activities practiced. In Nigeria, Sex education and safe sex is still a sensitive topic to discuss to teenagers and young adults.
- It affects where we seek help first; do we visit an alternative medicine practitioner/babalawo when we fall ill, or head to a hospital.
- How we accept a diagnosis. Do we immediately bring in faith into it or start asking for the treatment plan?
- How we accept preventive measures like vaccines, prenatal, birth control, screening tests etc.
- Culture affects our willingness to discuss a symptom especially when what caused it is culturally wrong.
As a society, we have to start looking at health realistically and not through our rose- colored glasses. Not talking about an issue does not make it disappear, however constantly addressing it would stir up solutions, awareness and reduction of its occurrence.
Health should not be affected by our beliefs, moral or religion and an individual’s access to quality health care should not be affected by it either. Even as health care professionals, if we can only abide by one oath: “Do no harm” above all, we would have better treatment outcomes.
So welcome to BWS your go to spot for all things concerning your body, a little bit of your spirit and soul too without bias irrespective of race, tribe, religion, gender, sexual orientation, beliefs just being human.