Urgent Evoke

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LEARN8: Acceptance of Indigenous Knowledge

Here is an indigenous knowledge case study from the KIVU (Knowledge, Imagery, Vision, and Understanding) Project for In... that interested me:

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.


The most important lesson I take from this is to respect indigenous knowledge, and instead of fighting it, to use it to your advantage. In this story, when official associations of physicians stopped fighting the indigenous knowledge, these people became more able to help themselves using there own methods.

If only it were this simple, however. Unfortunately, there are all sorts of shades of gray. Such as, what if someone used traditional healing methods, but it wasn't enough? But since they are used to their own healing methods, and they have received treatment, they may not pursue treatment through other methods, and could end up getting worse and dying.

And what about something like female genital mutilation? That is certainly an indigenous practice in some places, but how can you respect and use that? What alternatives do you have to fighting it?




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