Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 1997 Aug; 3(4): 103-5.
Traditional medicine in The Gambia.
While working in a rural hospital in The Gambia, I realized that some of my colleagues viewed traditional healers with some degree of scepticism. Some felt that it led to a delay in patients seeking treatment and, at times, could lead to death from herbal intoxication. However, despite the unscientific, and at times harmful, treatments it remains a popular choice of health care that is culturally acceptable and readily available in the rural communities. So important are culture and ethnicity to health outcomes that, even if structural constraints are removed in the health sector, desired results are unlikely to be achieved unless the cultures of communities are taken into consideration by health policymakers and planners and providers of health care. Indeed, increased attention to these issues by policymakers increases the chances of success in implementing policy. If this is done, providers will be less likely to display an ambivalence towards the use of traditional medicine and users will be less likely to vacillate between modern and traditional medicine (World Bank 1995). With an increase in chronic diseases (and new diseases such as AIDS) with no known cure, it seems that this valuable resource should be tapped safely and more effectively, with support and supervision, to improve the chances of health for all by the year 2000.