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AFRO-NETS> Front-line-health & workers
- Subject: AFRO-NETS> Front-line-health & workers
- From: "Hugo Van Damme" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 29 Aug 1997 04:53:28 -0400
Front-line-health & workers
'Front-line-health' is a term which describes again another way around the
real peoples needs in terms of avoiding treating them according to their
cultural health needs and expression. I keep it general but could fill
in Africa's peoples needs, indigenous peoples needs.
Biomedicine has a block against traditional or indigenous health prac-
tices and wants to solve that problem by calling modern health delivery
in communities front-line-health. As if it is about war. Wars are about
polarisation and stubbornness indeed.
The opportunity to deal with health issues in a cultural dignified man-
ner in Southern Africa is exceptionally acute. The constitutional
changes in South Africa and the pressures it exerts on surrounding coun-
tries should be used to develop health policies which do not only re-
flect the interests of modern medicine.
Traditional healing is an easy target for scepticism and cheap criti-
cism. But what efforts has modern science really made to help the tradi-
tional healing sector deal with new world administration and other pres-
I appeal to all health workers and agents to open a space in their heart
for this very real issue. Many 'nice' sounding project and programs are
in place designed in the first modern world setting and I am not refer-
ring to the USA or Europe.
Modern health workers do a lot of lip service to their modern training
which until today lacks cultural insight. Oh well traditional healing is
being tolerated, it is not good enough, it has to be involved every step
of the way.
The traditional healing sector needs an autonomous department in the
ministry of health if that ministry of health does not only want to
umbrella the modern sector. Such a department of indigenous health
should co-ordinate all communication between health systems and all
stakeholders. It should be staffed by people recruited from the tradi-
tional healing sector who should be trained in modern administrative
Modern health workers face reality whether you are into 'front-line-
health' or whatever you want to call it. Until now it grossly inadequate
to cope with peoples cultural health needs. WHO recognises this point
since early 80ties and ever since modern sectors have dodged the issue.
No longer should the majority of the people be ridiculed for their
spiritual and ancestral believes.
Hugo Van Damme
Traditional Healer Organisation for Africa - NGOMA
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