1: Give three compelling examples of how cultural issues affect your project
One cultural difference my team talked about was the concept of time for the people of Sierra Leone. While Americans follow schedules closely, Sierra Leoneans are much less concerned about showing up on time. This could affect our project in the sense that it could make it difficult to schedule meetings with locals and plan out the day in general.
Another issue in Sierra Leone is the way the different genders interact with each other. As mentioned by some of my group members that had gone to Sierra Leone this past summer, many women over there do not feel comfortable going to men regarding the health issues we are focusing on. With many workers in these villages being men, women may not disclose potential UTI threats to them, meaning the women that would benefit from our product would not be given them.
The popularity of traditional medicine in Sierra Leone could also impact our project. Since many people still believe in herbal, spiritual, and other forms of traditional medicine, some women could look towards those forms of treatment rather than the more Western and more modern approach to health care that we are implementing.
2: Have you experienced or observed any of these social situations at home? Describe at least 3 such situations.
Living with my sister and my mom, I have seen and heard their opinion on having to see male doctors. I have heard my sister mention how she does not feel very comfortable discussing some aspects of her health, and how she feels like a female doctor or nurse could understand my sisters health better.
I have also experienced how people not sticking to meeting times can be detrimental. Over winter break I had made plans with some friends to get food, and made other plans with other friends to hang out right after. However, the friends I were getting food with ended up not being ready in time for the original meeting time and I ended up having to cancel on my other friends. Although this situation is not as important as the negotiations and meetings we will be doing in Sierra Leone, I have seen the negative effects of people not following schedules.
Although I have not seen too much of this back home, my mom has told me of a few of her friends who have gone to see herbal medical specialist instead of actual doctors. Although my moms friends say that medicine has been helpful, my mom highly doubts that.
3: Give 3 examples of cultural practices that can be leveraged to address community/market problems
With the idea of hierarchy and social statuses being big in Sierra Leone, these notions could be used to help a market like the one we are working in with our project. If Sierra Leoneans who are looked up to and hold high places on these social hierarchies promote what we are working on, I feel like more citizens would buy into the market.
Markets could also leverage the fact that Sierra Leone places a large emphasis on consensus. If a market is able to get a group of people to originally accept a product, like in our case our test strips to benefit maternal health, then a larger portion of the public could buy into the idea of using it.
Communities could also make use of the fact that Sierra Leone society has a culture of being high collectivist. With that knowledge, markets could probably get more people to individually gain trust in a product if they focus it towards groups of similar people to start.
4: In regards to your ventures, how does the African context present different challenges than the American context? Give at least 3 examples.
Poor infrastructure is one aspect that provides a larger challenge in Sierra Leone than the United States. While almost all Americans can easily get from place to place as they please, many Sierra Leoneans have major troubles traveling, which definitely impacts the number of people who seek medical help when they need it.
The lack of doctors is another issue more prevalent in Sierra Leone than America, and one that impacts our project. With only 0.05 doctors per 1,000 people in Sierra Leone, the medical help that people are able to receive is very limited, or of less quality than that of the United States, so women who could benefit from our product may not receive them.
In addition, the fact that Sierra Leone is a majority Muslim nation could make an impact on our project. I do not know if this would definitely impact how Sierra Leoneans would view this product focused on reproductive and women’s health since I have not been to the country, but I could see this mindset hindering our project to some extent.
5: In regard to your ventures, how does the African context offer different resources than the American context. Give at least 3 examples.
Having UNICEF working with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation provides a resource within the nation that the United States does not have. This allows the Sierra Leone government to receive extra funding that can go to different projects, like further promoting maternal health.
Free health care for pregnant women, mothers of young children, and people of protected populations is also a great resource for Sierra Leoneans that is not available for Americans. This is beneficial for our project, as it does not prohibit women from getting medical help on the basis of costs.
The resources of having community elected health workers is another resource available for the Sierra Leoneans. Having people working in the health sector within villages where they are respected and trusted by the locals could cause an increase in the amount of people who go receive medical help.