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Concern, cooperation, and coexistence in healing

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 10 July 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:133
  1. R E S Tanner, former chairman
  1. East African Institute of Social Research, Kampala, Uganda

    Consideration for and interest in modern traditional medicine in east Africa by scientific medicine face three barriers; the cultural and social distance between the two professions; institutional restrictions and professional etiquette which limit contacts; and the scientific mentality and training.

    The traditional healers are alert to social changes

    It seems, therefore, that the medical profession holds all the high cards and that any cooperation would have to be on the doctors' terms, but is their position really so superior?

    Most developing countries have Western-style medical systems, which are underfunded, understaffed, underpaid, and deal with rapidly expanding populations. They cannot provide a personal or adequate service because of the shortage of drugs, staff moonlighting, the need to pay for services, and the preference of the senior staff to work in the major towns.

    The ways in which medical services are provided alienate patients, and the cures proposed are not only outside …

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