GSIF Blog Post #2

The major cultural issues that we may encounter while trying to integrate our product into Sierra Leone may be more difficult to deal with than we ever expected. Although we do not know what issues will arise while in Sierra Leone, we can speculate what some of the possible issues may be before hand. One of these issues is the healthcare system within Sierra Leone. Their healthcare system is very different to the one many of us are accustomed to which could lead to issues concerning who will administer the test, along with where, and when they will be available to people. Another issue may be the possible lack of concern or knowledge about sickle cell. People may be less concerned about the disease than we are due to the fact that it is very prevalent throughout their society. One final cultural issue we may encounter is

In my personal experience, I have seen people reject very common practices due to their culture and the way they live. One example of this when someone I know fell off her horse and broke her arm. She decided not to go to the hospital because she was raised in a family where you don’t go to the hospital, you take care of issues on your own. Another similar example is when my grandfather consistently rejects the services of professionals and attempts to take on major projects by himself (Ex. cutting down a 70 ft tree or installing the plumbing system for his house). Furthermore, I have personally seen many people throughout Vermont reject food due to the fact that it was not locally grown, they are against anything that is not local and will choose not to eat food that is not locally grown. Many people have moral issues with the ways food is produced on a large scale which is why they will refuse to eat anything which they do not know how it was grown.

Since many people throughout Sierra Leone often are seen by people in the healthcare system, integrating our product into the routine of the health care professionals. Since the majority of people throughout Sierra Leone live in rural areas, the most efficient way to distribute our product would be through the healthcare professionals who are able to reach more of the rural areas. Furthermore, having our product be used by a national source would make it easier for all people in Sierra Leone to access, reaching those in the urban areas as well. Another way we may be able to get people to use our product is by teaching locals about sickle cell, giving them a reason to get tested. Moreover, increasing the overall knowledge of sickle cell could help increase awareness throughout the country, by holding information sessions (or something of that nature), we have the potential to reach many people who may never have had any idea about sickle cell.

Due to the fact that we are dealing with one of the poorest countries in the world, we have to tailor our product to that market. People do not have the same amount of money to spend on medical bills, we have to create a much cheaper option for the people of Sierra Leone. Furthermore, the ability to get medical service is more limited in rural areas of Sierra Leone than it is almost anywhere in the western world, therefore we must develop way for our product to be used on those who may not have easy access to medical services. Similarly, people may be less inclined to get tested due to the difficulty and or financial burden it may take on them.

Unfortunately, there is a much higher percentage of people who have sickle cell in Sierra Leone than there is in America. Although these people have a health issue that can make their lives very difficult, it does present us an opportunity to create a low cost diagnostic which would not be as needed and or accepted within America. This opportunity would not be as useful in the United States due to the many tests which are already available. Furthermore, the fact that Sierra Leone is very poor also gives us a chance to create a product which could spread to other countries which have a similar need for a low cost diagnostic.

– Jaro Perera

Leave a Reply