The role of Traditional Medicine on Healthcare Delivery. A case study of Amaebu Town.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
This work tries to make the public to appreciate the roles of herbal medicine to humanity as a whole. Herbal medicine thrives side by side with other means of cure such as western medicine, spiritual healing etc. Health has remained the best, most precious of all things and it is the foundation of all happiness. Traditional medicine has developed in various communities in Nigeria in response to the health needs of the people.
There is the common saying that “what the toad will eat, God will not put on a tree”. Even if such needs of the toad develop or grow in space, they will surely come to the ground if they are to satisfy the needs of the toad. The development of herbal medicine has led to various categories of healers, the various healing methods, strategies and medicines or remedies now known.
Most of the people living in rural communities doesn’t have access to orthodox medicine and it is estimated that about 75 percent of the populace still prefer to solve their health problems consulting traditional healers.
There are many areas where herbalist hold their curative abilities for example Amaegbu, herbalist have excelled orthodox medicine practitioners in fixing of bones and limbs.
There are other areas of health management where the herbal medicine practitioners have left their footprints on the sand time.
Many years ago, the method of healing and treatment was the alternative methods of health care delivery. It was almost universally used for achieving good health modern scientific medicine has evolved from herbal medicine and was spread to Africa as a result of European contact missionaries and the influence of modernization.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In any given population, healthcare constitute the primary need of the people. It is true the westerners introduced what is often referred as a “better method of health care” or “modern medicine”. But before this period and even now, some people still hold on to the traditional method of seeking health and this is rampant in my town Amaegbu.
Distinction is made between therapy organized by government often with the help of voluntary or private agencies and that undertaken and administered by individuals who are not qualified medical doctors in the European tradition.
Despite the fact that some traditional doctors are recognized to treat some ailments and diseases well, yet a great number of patients have consistently taken to modern medicine without any relief, while some other patients obtain relief and some in some cases receive permanent care from the herbal doctors. But unfortunately, until recently these practitioners has been excluded in the health care delivery system.
This work will hopefully help to remove those bad and wrong ideas about herbal medicine viewed as “devilish and unchristian”. It will also expose some of the concepts of illness in Amaegbu and the therapeutic structure of traditional medicine, so as to aid the general understanding of what herbal medicine does in its practice.
1.3 AIMS/OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
according to Charles Worth (1994), research arises when there are problems to solve peculiarities about the phenomena or the question of giving meaning to them.
To this extent therefore, the aim/objectives of this study are as follows:
- To identify the ailment and disease that are better treated with herbal medicine and method used.
- To access the contributions of the traditional medicine to health care delivery.
- To create awareness in the cultural revival of Amaegbu, thus strengthening the traditional heritage of the people and encouraging cohesion among them.
- Finally to recommend some avenue of improving on and making more people benefit from herbal medicine.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study has both practical and theoretical significance
1.4.1 PRACTICAL SIGNIFICANCE
This study will be useful to the general public because it will help them to appreciate the roles that traditional medicine plays most especially to the people of Amaegbu. It will also aimed at the federal government to include traditional medicine into the main stream of healthcare delivery.
1.4.2 THEORETICAL SIGNIFICANCE
The study will help to sharpen existing theories on traditional medicine. It will also go a long way into helping to correct the impression of some people about the herbal medicine.
This paper is also aimed at trying to highlight the importance of herbal medicine as alternative to orthodox medicine and again suggesting to the herbal medicine men on the way to attract people’s interest example good hygiene, good packaging of their medicine.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The study seek answers to the following questions:-
- What are the kinds of ailments or diseases that can be cured with herbal medicine?
- What is the place of herbal medicine in the healthcare delivery?
- What factors are responsible for some people’s attitude toward rejecting herbal medicine?
- What contributions are being made by the federal government to integrate herbal medicine in the country?
By traditional medicine, we mean the inherited or transmitted indigenous means of healing sick people. The world health organisation (WHO 1996) defined traditional medicine as the sum total of all knowledge and practices, whether explicable or not, used in diagnosis, prevention and elimination of physical, mental or social imbalance and relying exclusively on practical experience and observations handed down from generation to generation, whether verbally or in writing.
Traditional medicine in Amaegbu includes objects or materials which exercise remote or miraclelous effect of the other objects. The people’s concept of medicine thus include drug for curing and preventing diseases as well as objects with magical effects.
Traditional healers are known by different names in different cultures. They are called “dibia” in Igbo, “Babalowo” in Yoruba, Shaman among the Eskimo, and such other names in diverse language groups. Usually they are believed to be intermediaries between man and the gods. The traditional healer, as defined by the world health organisation is a person who is recognized by the community in which he lives as competent to provide healthcare by using vegetable, animal and mineral substances and certain other methods based on the social, cultural and religious background, as well as on the knowledge, attributes and beliefs that are prevalent in the ceremony regarding physical, mental and social well-being and the causation of disease and disability. They are usually known as traditional practitioners.
Herbalists are practitioners. They have local names in diverse cultures. They uses herbs. Herbalists are persons who cures mainly with plants and their accessories which he gathered fresh. This people collect, sell or administer herbs or plants as medicine for the treatment of diseases in human beings.
The knowledge of herbs they have is often passed from parents to offsprings commonly through interaction, hence the ability runs through lineages that practice it.
A herbalist is expected to be knowledgeable in all the various aspects of healing and in the functioning of the various organs of the body. He is expected to determine the nature of patient’s illness, treat him and also predict the course of his treatment. In a typical traditional setting, he combines the role of the present day doctor with that of the pharmacist and the nurse.
These are traditional doctors, they are at some times referred to as either native doctors. They are the specialists who have suffered most from European American writers and speakers who say and wrongly call them witch doctors. They may be herbalists, diviners and those who perform sacrifices or a combination of the two or all. They under gone a period of apprenticeship and have some experience in the use of herbs for curing diseases or ailments. This people sometimes, combine divination with herbs in the healing method.
Herbalism is the act of administering herbs for the treatment of diseases in human beings. Herbalism involves the use of plant materials like roots, barks, leaves as well as herbs in the preparation of drugs. These drugs may be in the form of ointment. Syrups or other varieties. They are also used to cure diseases by rubbing it on the body, inhalation, or drinking.
This means the making of good healthcare facilities available to people. It involves step, all processes, followed in order to prevent illness to maintain normal health conditions and to restore to normal a person or persons that are sick. Health care delivery also entails protection of and preventing one from accidents and a good sanitary environments.
As was earlier mentioned, the herbalists treats with medicines made up of plants, animals and minerals. He may also use of the therapeutic systems described earlier. The general populace want to compare the herbalist with the orthodox medicine general practitioners. They are being encouraged to improve on the quality of their output and practice.
They should mindful of the sources of their raw materials and avoid adulteration, all in the bid to ensure safe medicines.