Alternative health care

Why is this important

Access to affordable and effective health care is a basic human right. All tribal-inhabited areas, particularly eastern India, have seen a decline in the overall health situation however. This is due to the lack of clean drinking water, sanitation and adequate nutrition which leaves the tribes people vulnerable to disease.

People end up suffering from endemic but curable health problems such as tuberculosis, malaria, gynecological problems, diarrhea, skin diseases and jaundice. In this context, the challenge has been to promote and upgrade herbal health care, a sustainable practice which is based on the traditional knowledge of the tribal communities and is accessible and cost effective.

What is Community Aid Alliance doing to resolve this situation

In the 1990s, Community Aid Alliance resource centres started investigating the viability of traditional medicinal knowledge systems within the community as well as its legitimacy in the region. This has developed into a community managed health movement based on herbal medicines, predominantly in the Andhra Pradesh region

Project components:

Regular Health Camps are organized at the weekly markets where there is a regular gathering of the local community. The Community Health Practitioners offer medical advice and treatment through herbal medicine. In the last five years 16,316 patients have been treated. 

Community Health Centres are located in the village where they serve as health centres run by The Community Health Practitioners for villages nearby. 17,708 patients have been treated in these centres during the last five years.

Traditional Healing Centres operate in the same manner as the Community Health Centres, except that they are run by Traditional Health Practitioners who are members of the THP Federation.

The Traditional Health Practitioners Network rolls out campaigns to protect endangered herbal species, create awareness of epidemic diseases. and create awareness around endangered species. The members of the networks also conduct curative health camps to exchange knowledge of herbal plants and their medicinal use.

Capacity Building Training Programs have been initiated for Traditional Health Practitioners to build on their existing knowledge including traditional birthing techniques.

 

Two herbal gardens are operative with more than 130 disappearing medicinal plants. In addition 10 community herbal gardens have been raised with about 30 medicinal plant species each. These gardens also serve as aids in the learning processes being carried out at community health centers.

I completed my one year training as a herbal medical practitioner four years ago at Adatigala medical centre. I see approximately 25-30 people each in three villages a week for ailments such as arthritis, fevers, skin diseases, coughs and gynecologic problems. Many things can be cured with herbal remedies costing around Rs 10 which is a lot less than the Rs 100 for medicine from the hospital which is 11kms walk from the villages. Kappu Pandamma  herbal doctor, Regulupadu village, Ahdhra Pradesh