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HEALTHCARE SEEKING BEHAVIOR - A MAJOR HIDDEN BARRIER IN INDIA'S PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM

India is a country with a diverse range of cultures, ethnicities, religions and languages. While in many ways, this is a source of richness and strength, cultural influences sometimes give rise to challenges in the context of managing commonly presenting illnesses. Patient health-seeking behavior leads to delays in obtaining medical help for reasons that have more to do with culture, social practice and religious belief.

The role played by culture and religion in Indian culture is undeniable, but it must be remembered that cultural tradition and religious beliefs are not necessarily the same thing.  The issue here is not about lack of education, because articulate, well-educated people can still express preferences for traditional over modern forms of medicine; nor is it about prioritizing one system of medicine over another. It is about finding an accommodation for a workable co-existence between different forms of medicine and dealing with conflicting attitudes, values and preferences.

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