Ethiopia: Where does traditional medicine go?



After suffering from asthma during his childhood, Merigeta Bekalu Mulu sought help from traditional healers. This also led him to visit the church academy for 20 years in Gojjam, the state of Amhara. In addition, he worked as an assistant to his grandfather who was a healer and he later transferred his age-old knowledge.

"Traditional medicine is not a recent innovation, but rather since the time of Adam and Eve, when God gave them 2000 kinds of plants to be used for medication," he said.

Bekalu currently offers traditional medicine mainly for diseases such as hemorrhoids, asthma, herpes zoster, epilepsy, among others. He diagnoses diseases by smelling.

Merigeta Bekalu, says that the main challenges for traditional medicine are lack of attention to the sector and the stereotypes of the people who confuse traditional healing with bad spiritual power. This has led to people developing a wrong perception about traditional healers than seeking their help.

As far as he is concerned, there are currently 2000 healers in Addis Ababa, but they are not organized in an association. The country has failed to modernize traditional medicine due to lack of attention. While the Ethiopian cultural center is working on gathering information, organizing it, analyzing and supporting the researchers they do in the field of traditional medicine, although there is still a lot to come.

Bekalu for his part said that he had an opportunity to visit China, where he noticed that traditional medicine received the necessary attention from the people and the government. There is also a large institution where traditional medicines are delivered, noted Bekalu.

On the other hand, although the healers are interested in working hand in hand with modern medication, they are still faced with a lack of dedication and support, he added.

Director of the Ethiopian Culture Center Tesfaye Shimeles said that the main goal of the center is to collect, organize, analyze and stimulate researchers on traditional medicine in the country, but it is not yet successful as desired.

He further stated that Ethiopia is the home of different nations and nationalities and that it is also equipped with different types of traditional medicines that are used in different ways. In addition, different plants, dairy (animal output) and roots are the only important inputs that were used to prepare traditional medicines in Ethiopia. On the other hand, the center also has the responsibility that aggressively works on traditional medicines that adapt or modernize and keep the beneficiary from the center to the country, Tesfaye noted.

Bekalu also stated that the destruction of plants is likely to pose a threat to traditional medicine in Ethiopia. In order to preserve these plants, the health agency, the agricultural agency, the shareholders and healers must work together and work aggressively, he says.

University lecturer and researcher on traditional medicine at the University of Addis Ababa, Mesfin Paulos said in turn that traditional medication is not used effectively because of various challenges.

According to Mesfin, lack of belief, research, guideline that how to use the drug, limited protection and preservation of indigenous culture and resources, lack of institute, and among others are some of the biggest problems of traditional medication that obstruct the country and the healers benefit from the sector.

As far as he is concerned, some healers are reluctant to transfer their knowledge of traditional medication to others who avoid possible abuse of traditional medicine. He further stated that traditional medicine has different meanings to cure diseases that have not been treated with modern medication until now. 80 to 90 percent of the population used traditional medicines across the country, he added.

TM is still not free from similar problems, he emphasizes. Shareholders must play their own role and become synergy for the strength of the medicines in the country, he says.

Belaye Ambaye, a traditional healer who took over the knowledge of his father, said that lack of recognition, support, dedication and responsibility are some of the biggest problems that hinder the growth of traditional medicine, he says.

Especially not appointing a responsible government body about traditional medicine is a serious challenge for the sector in the country, Belay remarked. He also agrees that the alarming destruction of plants threatens traditional medicine, leaving society a few years later exposed to various types of health risks.

He recalled that the association of healers began in the 1970s, although there is no effective association yet.

Supporting the sector, giving high intentions, organizing healers, creating plants and creating a favorable climate for the integration of both traditional and modern medication are crucial for feeding the sector, he explained.

Above all, traditional medicine is important for the society they use in the right way, while healers play a decisive role in preventing serious health problems in the country. To strengthen this, individuals should play an indispensable role in order to guarantee a sustainable TM within the country and to adapt to modernization, the learned Ethiopian Bode.


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