Is indigenous health knowledge converging to herbalism?: Healing practices among the Meru and the Maasai of the Ngarenyanyuki ward, Northern Tanzania
- We question whether traditional medicine is converging into “herbal systems”.
- We address this aspect by focusing on two communities of Northern Tanzania.
- The case study shows the increasing centrality of herbal remedies in traditional medicine.
- At the same time TM emerges as a rich and challenging mixture of practices.
- The grassroots search for a more communitarian approach to medicine is needed.
Globalization and cultural interaction, new lifestyles, the diffusion of “modern medicine”, the transformation of traditional religious practices and beliefs, have profoundly challenged and modified indigenous health systems. This paper questions whether due to these changes traditional healing systems are to some extent converging into “herbalism” and losing ties with their original cultural systems.
By analyzing the healing practices of two communities (Maasai and Meru) in the rural ward of Ngarenyanyuki (Northern Tanzania), the paper explores how traditional and modern health knowledge circulates, changes, and evolves.
Evidence from the case study shows that herbal remedies play an increasingly key role in traditional healing practices. Nevertheless, Maasai and Meru health knowledge emerges as a rich and challenging mix of evolving practices. The paper discusses these ongoing processes and inputs into the debate on health provision in African countries by underlining the need for a policy transition to more holistic healing systems which may provide highly desirable options in the current context of health reforms.
- Traditional medicine;
- Modern medicine;
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