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The Importance of Cultural Competence among Health Professionals

16 Nov 2022

Healthcare providers need to be culturally sensitive and culturally competent with the increase of diversity of a nation. Health outcomes are expected to be improved, and the quality of the healthcare system is expected to be excellent, with healthcare providers being sensitive culturally towards their patients and co-workers. Centre for Bioethics and Humanities invited Dr Jaiprakash Mohanraj, Associate Professor at the Biochemistry Department of the School of Medicine at International Medical University (IMU), to crystalise “The Role of Culture in Medicine and Healthcare Profession” to the medical students.


A/Prof Dr Jaiprakash (in the photo above) explained the importance of establishing rapport with patients to make good diagnoses of the patient’s illness. He explained the definition of cultural sensitivity and how being able to be culturally sensitive could bridge the gap between patients and healthcare providers.


How to be culturally sensitive? AP Dr Jaiprakash explained to the students the need to develop an awareness of the diversity and differences that exist when working in a foreign country, besides educating oneself on cultural diversity and engaging in cultural practices. These are the features of being culturally sensitive.


According to A/Prof Dr Jaiprakash, if the healthcare professional is not culturally sensitive, they will not be able to get anything out of the patient. He reminded the students to pick up the verbal and non-verbal cues to establish the understanding of the patient so that they could strategise the treatment better. He also shared some of his own experiences working in India and Malaysia.

A/Prof Dr Jaiprakash concluded the one-hour webinar with five take-home messages on being culturally sensitive, which are:
Culture is an integral part of a job and living in a community
Healthcare providers are part of the culture
Understanding the sensitivity of culture helps to understand the patients better
Doctors are automatically leaders, and as a leader, they need to reach a larger community therefore being culturally sensitive is important
Understanding culture helps to integrate into their workspace and inclusivity on a broader space.

The webinar session ended with a question-and-answer session. Shahaa Mohamed Hassan was the session’s moderator, and the master of the ceremony was Shri Ram A/L Sivanesan. Both are undergraduates from the School of Medicine, IMU.

About A/Prof Dr Jaiprakash Moharaj
A/Prof Dr Jaiprakash Mohanraj received an MBBS from MS Ramaiah Medical College, Bangalore University, and an MD in Clinical Biochemistry from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences. Consequently, he has obtained a doctorate in medical science from University Malaya Sabah. The University of Dundee also granted him a postgraduate certificate in medical education.


A/Prof Dr Jaiprakash Mohanraj has more than fifteen years of teaching experience in India and Malaysia. Currently, he is an Associate Professor at the Biochemistry Department of the School of Medicine. He has numerous articles published in national and international journals. His presentations at national and international conferences have earned him multiple grants and awards. Leptin and leptin receptor, Obesity, Professionalism, Blended Learning, and Quantum Biology are among his research interests. He has served as an external examiner for several medical programmes at a number of universities, and his participation as a judge in Malaysia’s prestigious ITEX is particularly noteworthy.


He has led several teams at the university and faculty level in the development of Exam, CPD, and Teaching and Learning-related activities. He serves as an editor for the International Journal of Current Biotechnology, the Journal of Academia and Industrial Research, and Pharmacy and Pharmacology Research. He is a voracious reader, badminton enthusiast, amateur photographer, and movie fanatic.

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Written by Dr Thulasimani Munohsamy, Lecturer, Centre for Bioethics and Humanities.

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