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INDIGENOUS WOMEN HEALERS FORMED GROUPS TO PRACTICE TRADITIONAL MEDICINE IN OAXACA (MEXICO)
After bitter struggles with official associations of physicians, traditional medicine people, mostly women, finally were able to organize joint meetings in which they shared their experiences and set up plans for collaboration. As a direct result, indigenous women benefitted immensely. Their involvement has been a key factor in cataloguing the plants, herbs, and practices, and in promoting the conservation and availability of curative products and practices. With the support of the National Indigenist Institute, UNICEF, and NGOs, an overall health program has been established. Recognized medicine people and healers train interested indigenous villagers as health promoters through courses and workshops, focussing on the recovery of communal knowledge about medicinal plants and traditional healing practices. The status of indigenous women has been enhanced through the creation of a council of traditional medicine where their knowledge is recognized, and through the opening of community clinics. Not only can they make wide use of their traditional knowledge in medicine, but also the exercise of their practice has been greatly improved.
I find this particularly interesting because it is applying a time-tested knowledge but without much medical science behind it, and applying it to a more practical study of the botanical richness in the area, while at the same time bringing more contemporary science into the equation to improve the natural healing techniques that these women already had.
While researching a bit more on the issue, I found an article describing how not only modern-trained physicians are bringing their knowledge of medical science to improve the remedies these indigenous women use, but also how they are about to complete work on a Traditional Medicine Centers in one of these areas, under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Health.
A hospital where traditional and modern medicine meet and work together sounds like a very exciting proposition, and it is a great way for the indigenous people in the area - who do not trust modern medicine - to get a better quality of medical care.