Challenges Of Culture — Approval From Elders

May 20, 2011



Culture provides an anchor for people, but it also can present challenges to the care of children. In Botswana, elders are respected and parents often need their approval for a large variety of things, including, sometimes, allowing doctors to treat their own children. All of us who work here have multiple stories of a child's treatment being delayed or abandoned because it was the will of the grandparent or another elder. Obviously, American culture is drastically different from this, and there are a lot of advantages to keeping grandparents involved. However, while they certainly have the best interest of their grandchild in mind, sometimes their perception of what's best is directly opposite of what we think is best for the child based on clinical evidence. Overcoming this challenge is difficult as elders often come for family meetings when it's too late. One strategy I've found useful is to address the issue of family involvement up front. This way, respect for elders can be shown and most importantly, in my opinion, the care of the child can proceed without delay and without later interruption.

Post by:

Parth Subhash Mehta, MD

Dr. Parth Mehta is the Director of the Global Oncology Program. Before relocating back to the United States, Dr. Mehta lived in Africa from 2007 to 2011. Dr. Mehta served as the Director of the Haemophilia and Oncology Clinic of Botswana at the Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone, Botswana....

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