The Loss of Traditional Medicines

A BBC article by Steve Vickers describes the dying art of traditional medicine in Africa. The old practitioners are slowly dying off, and there is not all that much interest coming from the younger generations. The article describes how in Zimbabwe,
"As more and more Africans adopt urban lifestyles, the interest and enthusiasm for traditional medicine seems to be declining, and many now prefer the pills of Western medicine."

Vickers goes on to describe spending some time with a healer:
I accompanied Ambuya Jessie Muzhange, an expert herbalist, to a bushy area on the outskirts of Harare. Digging for roots and searching for different plants that have medicinal properties is an arduous task, requiring a great deal of skill. Ambuya Muzhange, in her 70s, picked out leaves, branches and roots that most of us would not have even noticed were there."

This type of knowledge is held by a dwindling few in most indigenous populations around the world, not just in Africa. While in the U.S., traditional medicines are receiving more and more attention by the medical profession, in Africa, where there still exists the practice,
there is no sign of medical schools incorporating the traditional approach to the Western-style medicine that they teach."

In order to survive, traditional medical practices need the support of the biomedical world through the study and examination of such practices, and the integration of them into western biomedicine.

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