Incorporating Cultural Competence for Maternal Healthcare in the Quilombola Population into Health Profession Training

ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION: Training in ethnic and race relations and the history of Afro-Brazilian culture, established in the National Curricular Directives for Undergraduate Medical Courses as a transversal theme, represents a challenge for developing curricula in terms of social accountability, teaching methodologies and work experience in practical settings with integration into the health service network. OBJECTIVE: To identify the maternal health care needs among the quilombola population, appreciating the local culture, values and knowledge. To set a care strategy with student participation which contemplates the identified needs in the quilombola community. To describe the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the development of cultural competencies related to maternal health care of quilombola women. METHODS: Action research for the implantation of interprofessional prenatal care services with student participation, based on the needs of the quilombola community of Capoeiras, in Macaiba (RN). The information gathered was analyzed qualitatively by means of content analysis, with a priori definition of the thematic categories. RESULTS: The formation of affective bonds between users and the health team, and communication skills that help enable reflection were found as the main needs for culturally competent behavior in maternal care of the quilombola community. The medical students’ opportunity to learn about the health of the quilombola people and to have an interprofessional work experience proved to be effective strategies to leverage the development of cultural skills in medical training. CONCLUSIONS: The training of health professionals capable of interacting effectively with ethnically diverse populations requires their understanding the processes that influence the health and healthcare of ethnic minorities, as well as experiences related to cultural diversity, included in medical curricula.