Cultural competence is defined by the CDC as “a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations”. The term “culture” in this sense encompasses the different patterns of human behavior demonstrated in language, thoughts, communications, actions, institutions of race, ethnicity, customs, values, beliefs, traditions, religion, or social groups.
“Competence” is having the capacity to effectively work as an individual or as an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs that are demonstrated by the target community. Within the realm of public health, cultural competence can significantly impact how well a program is received and sustained within a community. It is imperative that public health organizations and officials be culturally competent and fully aware of the community before implementing any health behaviors.