Cultural sensitivity in health care has been recognized as one of the developing critical issue for health services. The research has developed directly from the increasing significance of social issues in improving access and delivery of services (Bramley et al 2005).
The concern has been particularly directed to developing health care programs and interventions for indigenous populations because of the predominance of traditions and beliefs that may not be consistent or even contravene mainstream programs and interventions (Chino & DeBruyn 2006). One of the countries that have made the issue a priority is Australia, specifying the need to improve health care for indigenous populations.
Australia’s response is supported by international studies indicating the failure of health care to develop sensitivity for the needs of these populations as national studies by the government indicating deficiencies in national programs (Tayal 2003; Jamieson et al 2008).
However, despite a high level of awareness for issues and significant institution of policies that can afford sensitivity and responsiveness for Australia’s indigenous populations, there has been limited improvement in health care outcomes (Gruen et al 2002; McDermott et al 2003; Shephard & Gill 2005; Brady 2007).
Deficiencies of Policy
A number of research indicate that the failure of most policies can be traced on the implementing traditional methodologies and strategies in the study of indigenous people’s health concerns without affording sensitivity to the unique cultural and social issues that exist in these communities.
This in turn affects the health programs developed, standards of success and ultimately the health outcomes for the indigenous group. Evaluations of current literature on the issue indicate that failure of current policies can be attributed to operational, socio-cultural and political reasons.
This also indicates that to be able to address the issue and improve health care outcomes, health care mangers must develop greater sensitivity and insights regarding the factors within and outside indigenous communities that can influence response and participation to health programs.
Current efforts that have been able to increase outcomes have been generally localized. Thus, despite their success, they have not been able to be reflected in broader programs (Holst Pellekaan & Postgrad 2005). Another difficulty in such a scenario is that success has been too specific, not just limited to specific groups but also limited to individual health concerns and conditions (Brady 2007).
In both cases, there is question whether programs are just reacting to individual health concerns rather than responding and sustaining health programs for indigenous peoples. At the same time, this critiques program’s national organization and effectiveness to manage these health concerns.