A break down to determine the diseases Cuba and France face

HCA 4303, Comparative Health Systems 1

Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VI

Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

1. Identify the major diseases and disparities in the context of a country’s unique cultures.

Reading Assignment

Chapter 8: The Healthcare System in France

Chapter 11: The Healthcare System in Cuba

Unit Lesson

You have likely seen a number of illusions in your life. Magicians can perform them, or they can be visual
illusions created by a variety of computer-aided graphic software or by using the traditional pen and paper
methodology. The point is that we cannot always believe what we see as our eyes can send incorrect
messages to our brain. That is also the case when we attempt scholarly endeavors, such as reviewing a
country’s healthcare delivery system. We have certain biases and expect to see certain data based on our
preconceived notions. In other words, we are prejudice since we pre-judge a situation based on what we think
we know.

The same phenomena can occur when studying other countries. The focus of this unit’s assignment is to
remain open-minded and to approach research with a naïve and skeptical approach. We will look beyond the
obvious cultural similarities between France and Cuba (they are both predominantly Roman Catholic), both
countries provide health care free of charge under a national healthcare system, and both countries continue
to battle high levels of obesity. We will look at the little known facts that dispute what we believe we know
about both countries and how their cultures might affect their overall health status.

We have known for years that culture affects a person’s health in both positive and negative ways, but it was
validated by a large retrospective study accomplished by the Institute of Medicine (Hernandez & Blazer,
2006). The research demonstrates explicitly that several interlocking factors; genetic inheritance, personal
behaviors, access to quality health care, and the external environment determine a person’s health. These
environmental factors need to be explored within the context of global health care. When we compare
countries, we need to ensure we are comparing “apples to apples” and even “McIntosh to McIntosh” if
possible. We must examine their social and cultural practices, religion, politics, socioeconomic status,
pollution, and the condition of their roadways, water purification, and delivery systems. In other words, we
must examine the available evidence both critically and extensively before making any determination on the
overall level of a country’s health as well as the quality of their healthcare delivery system.

Not only must we examine the country as a complete and complex entity, but we also must be sure that we
only see what truly exists. This unit, we look at the impact culture has on a person’s health and th