Self-reliance to health and well being through local resources and knowledge

Parallel Session 19

Venue: TBC

Day and time: Friday, 28 January 2011 - 15:30-17:00

According to WHO, traditional medicine is used by approximately 80% of the people in Africa, and it is also widely used in Asia and Latin America. Traditional healers take a more holistic approach to treating illness, and are widely available in rural areas. This session will explore models to enrich these practices in health settings.

The People's Charter for Health is a statement of shared vision, goals, principles and action and is the most widely endorsed consensus document on health since the Alma Ata Declaration. The People’s Charter calls for the provision of universal and comprehensive primary health care and “on people of the world to support, recognise and promote traditional and holistic healing systems and practitioners and their integration into Primary Health Care”

It is estimated that there are approximately 400 million Traditional Health Practitioners (THPs) around the world, often providing access to health care in remote and rural areas. Apart from frequently being available in areas with poor access to public health facilities (e.g. rural areas), traditional healers also treat illnesses in a more holistic and comprehensive way, recognizing the relationship between the environment, social circumstances, mental health and illness and disease.

Unlike institutionalised medicine such as western biomedicine, traditional health practice is primarily healer or physician centred. Through non institutionalised training and oral transmission, healers develop skills and utilise ways of knowing and validation which have evolved from traditions.

Governments need to recognise traditional health systems in their entirety and create space for oral transmission, to ensure that this knowledge is enhanced rather than lost. The practices of THPs need to be fully legalised at an appropriate level of the health system.

This session will explore:

  • Models to prevent the loss of traditional knowledge and underlying principles of practice of Traditional Health Practitioners;
  • Models for regulation and accreditation of THP’s, including self regulation;
  • Different training models for THP’s and the regulation thereof.
  • How THP’s can be better integrated and utilized within the health system, with particular focus on PHC and in remote and rural settings;
  • Proposed processes required to ensure effective and sustainable utilization of THP’s
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