First Culture is the values, morals and beliefs of a society. Stemming from the society’s culture is their ethics that are justifiable by their culture. Their ethics drives societies laws, policies and governance. Cultural ethics are the identity of a community. It is important that the international and humanitarian responders that provide assistance to communities after disaster to understand and value the impacted communities cultural ethics. It is important because to give effective and successful aid to an impacted population, a responder will have to understand basic cultural concepts. For example, in eastern Africa during the Ebola crisis, health responders received a lot of pushback and distrust from the impacted community because public health measures did not align with the community’s culture. As part of both the Christian and Muslim community, it was tradition to wash the dead and prepare them for burial. Public health workers found that during this ceremony, the community was coming in direct contact with the patient who died from Ebola. Therefore they were becoming infected. The international aid workers tried to explain the dangers of the disease and how it was safer to remove the dead in a body bag but the community would not listen. Their beliefs of how to properly bury their dead run so deep that they wouldn’t consider any other ritual. Health officials reached out to community religious leaders for assistance and advice, which ultimately the religious found historical context in their holy book of how alternatively to bury a body with a communicable disease by praying over it and not washing the body. With this advice, new measures were taken by the African governments and humanitarian organization to safely bury a body with respect to the community’s culture (Maxmen, 2015). By the humanitarian responders actively seeking out measures that respected the cultural ethics of the community but still provided the assistance necessary for preventing the spread of disease, many lives are saved. That is why it is important to understand and value the cultural ethics of a community as they relate to humanitarian/international disasters. Similarly, it is important that responders conduct themselves ethically as well because it will establish a trusting relationship between the international/humanitarian responders and the impacted community. From the example given above, the responders were entering impacted community in full HAZMAT suits treating the situation only as a health issue (Maxmen, 2015). The responders were delivering ebola education packets and telling the community of what to-do and not to-do. There was little to no communication of the community’s culture taken into account of delivering the assistance. This lack of communication as well as few responders to handle the amount of patient’s and a history of distrust with the government lead to conspiracy theories that the responders and doctors were killing the patients and stealing their organs (Maxmen, 2015). By addressing this distrust, humanitarian aid organizations received help from religious leaders who advised the responders how to be more respectful. This lead to responders to allow ceremony burials with the family present to pray but at a distance to prevent the spread of disease (Maxmen, 2015). By addressing the culture differences and changing the way humanitarian responders provided aid, trust was able to build between the responders and the impacted community so assistance could be given more efficiently and successfully. To ensure successful assistance to an impacted community, resources have to be distributed ethically as well. For example, there are cultures that women cannot receive medical treatment unless it is from a female provider. In this case, humanitarian organizations will need to ensure they have a female health provider on staff, preferably enough female health providers to meet the capacity of females in the impacted community (Lensu, 2003). Another example would be to distribute food that aligns with their cultural needs, such as many Muslims do not eat pork therefore if humanitarian providers distributed pork to the population then many individuals would find themselves in a “starve or violate their culture” predicament. This would prove the humanitarian aid unsuccessful in helping the impacted community (Lensu, 2003). For humanitarian and international assistance to be effective and successful, it is absolutely critical that responders understand the cultural ethics of the impacted community and conduct their assistance that is respectful to the community. References: Lensu, Maria. (2003). Respect for culture and customs in international humanitarian assistance. Implications for principles and policy. Retrieved from: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/2894/1/U615845.pdf Maxmen, Amy. (January 2015). How the fight against Ebola tested a culture’s traditions. National Geographic. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150130-ebola-virus-outbreakepidemic-sierra-leone-funerals/ Second Understanding cultural ethics has multiple importances to humanitarians disasters. First and foremost, it helps the humanitarians provide help to victims of calamities. People from different cultures have unique needs and vulnerabilities. Kapur and Smith (2010) assert that culture determines the vulnerable people in a population. For instance, one of the vulnerable groups, old people differs from one culture to another. In some culture, a person is considered old when he/she can no longer provide for their livelihood. Therefore, the kind of vulnerable people that the humanitarians need to focus on during crises responses may differ. Failure to understand this culture can bring problems in the provision of help. Nevertheless, respecting and valuing people’s culture can ease humanitarians work and foster cooperation (Kapur & Smith, 2010). Besides, determining the vulnerables, understanding cultural ethic can as well aid the responders to communicate with the victims and meet their needs effectively. Comprehending cultural ethics likewise eliminate cultural barriers to accessing help. Certain cultures pose obstacles to some people. In most culture, admitting that one has psychological problems is considered a sign of weakness, especially for men. Kapur and Smith, (2010) agree that this hinders victims of crises from getting mental help which is essential as during disaster people acquire stress and PTSD. These are issues that need to be resolved for the victims of the disaster to recover. Also, the definition of old people in various cultures can prevent valid vulnerable old people from getting vital services. Such people require special attention and immediate medical attention. However, if a culture considers someone who is regarded as aged by the UN otherwise, it prevents them from getting the best support. According to the UN, a person of age 60 and above is old, whether one is still physically strong or not. Additionally, respondents should conduct themselves ethically. They need to respect the human right of equality between women and men. They should ensure there is equitable distribution of resources and assistance to women, men, boys, and girls. This includes their abilities to make their own choices. Lowrie (2003) points out that the respondents also need to observe the universal ethical principles and professional standards. This constitutes provision of health service; they need to demonstrate utmost competencies. It is to promote the well- being of the victims. The respondents also need to respect the wishes of people, maintain confidentially, and get informed contest from victims. This applies even one requires an immediate response. They need to get consent before conducting any medical procedure according to the medical code of ethics. Confidentiality, on the other hand, involves ensuring that sensitive medical data such as HIV/AIDS status of a person is protected (Kapur & Smith, 2010). Absence of confidentiality can affect these people and their families as they are mostly discriminated. References Kapur, G. B., & Smith, J. P. (2010). Emergency public health: Preparedness and response. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. Lowrie, S. (2003). Reflections on the Humanitarian Charter.
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