TRADITIONAL MEDICINE IN ERITREA

When I recently suffered from this painful acne, a friend of mine recommended using cinnamon as a treatment, so I mashed the cinnamon into a powder and added a teaspoon of honey to make a mask. I am not here to tell you how the mask worked on my face, but to let you know that there are some medicines in our kitchen, although we may not be aware of it, and that cultural practices, including traditional medicine, have deep roots. Traditional medicine (TM), which is embedded in the beliefs of a community; it is the sum of knowledge, skills and practices based on theories, beliefs and experiences that are native to a particular community and is used both for the maintenance of health and for prevention, diagnosis or Treatment of physical and mental illnesses. It has played a huge role in treating and curing communicable and non-communicable diseases for millennia. TM is widely practiced in Africa due to its acceptance, perceived effectiveness, affordability, accessibility and psychological comforts it provides to patients, as well as the acute shortage of conventional health professionals in much of Africa, known as Chena Adam in Tigrigna, generates warmth and Often used in babies suffering from colds, stomach pain, and diarrhea. To use rue as a treatment, Eritrean mother is first fried in oil and refrigerated before use. The traditional medicine widely used in Eritrean societies is ginger, which is believed to relieve stomach pain, coughs and depression. As a medicine, the ginger is crushed and placed in boiling water. Aloe Vera is used to treat hepatitis, and fenugreek leaves are commonly used as a medicine for diarrhea. One teaspoon of fenugreek seeds, boiled and fried in butter, should be taken with one cup of buttermilk to treat diarrhea. For example, many parents believe that TM is the safest way to clean a child’s gastrointestinal tract. In addition, many members of society believe that traditional medicine is the only remedy for diseases related to mental instability. In choosing a traditional doctor, society bases its decisions on the popularity of the traditional doctor, the nature of his illness, the accessibility of the healer, the correspondence between the healer and his or her cultural identity or religious belief, and the affordability of services. Here healers do not use sterilized tools, especially during circumcision, uvulectomy, and herbal injection. The risk of infection increases and many patients are exposed to disabilities and communicable diseases as these practices are often associated with poor hygiene practices and the use of non-sterilized tools. The Ministry of Health recognizes the fact that TM fills an important gap in the provision of basic health services. Providing services in remote areas of the country, however, is also aware of the potential downside as some, if not all, TM practices can inevitably expose patients to avoidable hazards from unskilled doctors and unsafe practices. TM is as old as humanity itself and is based on the beliefs of the communities. People will continue to seek out TM treatment as it is readily available and accepted by communities. It touches on the subject of the culturally constructed concept of illness and health. Therefore, the Ministry of Health should encourage more studies to assess the benefits and risks of TM practices, determine their safety, and understand traditional health and attitudes of conventional health professionals towards integration in order to successfully integrate TM into the health system and become a universal one make an impact on health insurance. Despite the confusing roles and challenges traditional medical practices pose for modern health services, almost all national health systems in developing countries have developed various global and regional mechanisms and protocols to optimize the benefits of TM and mitigate its unintended adverse effects. The opening session of a multi-stakeholder workshop a few years ago, Eritrea, Health Minister Amina Nurhusien stated: “…traditional medicine has a long history in our society and is widespread. It stems from a strong history and cultural heritage at the local level and is practiced by recognized and respected members of the community, the community had and has trust and strong belief in the abilities and remedies of the practitioners …”

The people of Eritrea are the result of their history and culture. TM and traditional medical practices were developed and used long before the advent of modern medical and health institutions. Instead, they need to be educated about the positive and negative consequences of TM and ways to use TM in a regulated manner found.

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