Sample Paper on Cultural Context and Ethnomedical Health System

A cultural context is closely related to the health and well-being of a particular community. According to the WHO report, culture refers to the material, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual characteristics of a social group or society (Napier 1). It is essential for policy-makers and other stakeholders in the health sector to understand the relationship between culture and health of various groups. Cultural contexts affect health and well-being through migration, nutrition, and the environment. Awareness of cultural contexts enables healthcare providers to understand the influence of social health determinants of each cluster in the population. Therefore, an effective cultural context approach should focus on the holistic health needs of a group or a society.

Santeria is one of the non-western cultural groups that have a unique ethnomedical health system. The cradle land of this group is in West Africa, mainly from the broader Yoruba community. Its members believe that the supreme world spirits and beings influence their health (Santerismo). These spirits can cause illness among those who do not cultivate positive relationships with them. Consequently, treatment involves the use of baths, herbs, and protective fetishes to appease supernatural beings. Traditional diviners conduct various rituals on the body and spirit of a sick person to restore their health. Thus, the community combines both naturalistic and personality approaches in their medical health system.

Cultural contexts are critical in the provision of quality healthcare in any population. WHO requires players in the healthcare sector to develop policies that take into account the social health determinants of each group. As a result, they can provide holistic healthcare services for the improved well-being of the targeted individuals and groups. Santeria provides an excellent example of the relationship between the health and culture of a community. Hence, ethnomedical health systems are relevant to the improvement of healthcare services.


Works Cited

Napier, David. “Culture matters: Using a cultural contexts of health approach to enhance policy-making”. WHO Policy Paper, no.1, 2017, pp.1-35.

“Santerismo/Santeria.” National Geographic. 2015,