Soc Sci Med. 1988 ; 27(5): 545-52.
Illness behaviour in Sri Lanka: results of a survey in two Sinhalese communities.
Institute of Cultural Anthropology, University of Leyden, The Netherlands.
Although cosmopolitan medicine plays an increasingly important role in developing countries, people still use indigenous medicines. A 1983 survey in two Sinhalese communities in Sri Lanka investigated the patients' use of cosmopolitan or traditional treatments for various illnesses. It appears that for acute complaints, or when a child seems seriously ill, people use cosmopolitan medicine. For common ailments which are known to be self-limiting, people use traditional home remedies and consult Ayurvedic practitioners. In chronic complaints some patients use cosmopolitan medicine, while others prefer the Ayurvedic system or use both kinds of medicine. For a 'snakebite' or a 'fracture' people prefer the local specialists and for mental illnesses they consult the adura and Buddhist clergy; as a last resort they turn to the cosmopolitan facility. Ayurvedic medicine does not play a role of any importance in the treatment of mental disease. The aduras in the rural areas and the Buddhist monks and priests in the more urban areas have a clear function in the management of mental disease. Institutionally trained Ayurvedic practitioners have a less clear function, since they often dispense cosmopolitan medicines.