The history of the Hmong people is an unfortunate one. During the Vietnam War the United States trained Hmong soldiers in Laos to create a “secret army”. The Hmong fought on our side opposing the communist rule of the USSR and northern Vietnam. As the United States started to withdrawal from the war the Hmong continued the fight without U.S. support. The war continued for over nine years, during which over 2 million tons of explosives were dropped on Laos (Fadima). This was devastating to the Hmong because they relied on the land for survival. This, among other factors led the Hmong to be placed into refugee camps forcing them to become reliant just to survive.
It is important to understand the background of what the Hmong went through in order to truly understand Lee’s healthcare experience in the United States. One more than one occasion during this class we have examined similar topics, on how immigrants and minorities should be treated. Although, I personally believe for the most part that refugees need to assimilate to our culture, including our healthcare practices, I also think their culture and traditions need to be respected if at all possible. Meaning, that doctors in the United States should not have to know all medical related traditions from every culture and should treat refugees the same as Americans. However, if there is one particular practice that is important to them, doctors should be willing to accommodate them upon request, so long as it doesn’t pose a risk.
I understand that it was very difficult to the Lee family to communicate with the medical practitioners because of language barriers, however that also shows why assimilation is crucial. Now, this does not necessarily apply specifically to the Lee situation because of the timeline, but this is what I believe is necessary and my recommendation for improving healthcare for United States refugees. Putting the language barrier aside, I believe the Lee family should have received more accommodations regarding the traditional practices they were denied that they wanted to do which they thought would help cure Lia (Fadima).
Although I believe there are other possible solutions to improving refugee healthcare, I think assimilation is the most important and would have the biggest impact on improvement. Even though it doesn’t make recommendations on how to solve the problem my article points out that some of the biggest problems were the refugees not be able to speak English or write their name for the medical forms (Morris). This led many refugees to not even seek medical care for problems they knew they had. The article also showed that it wasn’t just refugees that have been in the Untied States for a few weeks or even month that could not read, write, or speak English. Rather, it included refugees granted permanent status who have been in the country for more than a year (Morris). Obviously, if assimilation was mandatory, which I believe it should be, than many of the problems would no longer exist. I would also just like to point out that mandatory assimilation does not mean being forced to abandon your cultural beliefs or traditions.
Morris, Meghan D., Steve T. Popper, Timothy C. Rodwell, Stephanie K. Brodine, and Kimberly C. Brouwer. “Healthcare Barriers of Refugees Post-resettlement.” Journal of Community Health. August 25, 2009. Accessed August 10, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2778771/.
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.