I feel that any knowledge of historical background is good in any situation. In the case of the Hmongs, their political history can be used as reasoning for their actions and feeling towards Western medicine. In the book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, we read of a Hmong child that acquires epilepsy and how much of an effect political history of their people has on her parents and the Western world. The only form of medical treatments that was widely accepted by the Hmong people was antibiotics (Fadiman). The Hmongs highly valued their independence and fought against communism (Thompson). Many Hmong people, like Lea’s family, immigrated to the United States after the war (Thompson). This war was devastating to the Hmong people because of the number of tradgies they had. To put it into number, the Hmong lost 100,000 out of 300,000 to 400,00 people (Thompson). Because of these casualties, I understand why the Hmong have mistrust and feel very strongly about their opinions. The Hmong fought for their independence something they believed in very strongly, why would they do otherwise when dealing with Western medicine. Even though Doctor Neil did explain to Lea’s family that the medication did work, they did not believe.
Being so new to a place can make you uncomfortable. The second podcast from this week made me think how that would feel. A new scene and a new life are so sudden. I think that if refugees were more comfortable or eased into the American way, they will be more compliant and understanding of our health care. I do not think that all of the refugee’s medical ways should be thrown out the window and ignored. For example, the Hmongs believed that the placenta was sacred and buried it in places for protection and for the return of their children’s soul (Fadiman). It is understandable that many doctors thought this was crazy, but people have different ways of life. Doctor Roger Fife, who was a doctor that was liked by Hmong people, tried to accommodate some of the Hmong’s requests. For example, he gave the placenta in a plastic bag to the mothers of the children he helped bring into this world (Fadiman). I think if more doctors did things such as Doctor Fife did, more refugees would be comfortable receiving medical care from doctors. Making things feel more comfortable and trying to understand cultures different than your own can only help others and that’s why I feel that doing so will improve healthcare experiences for refugees who enter America.
Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997. Print.
Thompson, Scott. “The Hmong People’s Involvement in the Vietnam War.” Synonym. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Aug. 2016.