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Chapter 4 – Traditional Medicine

Gerard C. Bodeker

WHY SHOULD TROPICAL MEDICINE PRACTITIONERS BE INFORMED ABOUT TRADITIONAL MEDICINE?

More than 80% of US medical schools now offer courses in complementary medicine and in Britain the General Medical Council requires medical schools to offer introductory courses on complementary medicine for medical students, in order to bridge the gap between patients and doctors in this field. In tropical countries, where a greater percentage of the population use traditional medicine than use conventional medicine, or than use complementary medicine in the industrialized countries, the need for information and understanding is greater.

There has been a historic mistrust between traditional health practitioners (THPs) and modern medical doctors. This has come in part from colonial policies which have attempted to suppress and replace traditional medicine. It also comes from the modern medical view that traditional medicine is at best of low therapeutic value …