Community Healthcare Initiative Research on Traditional Medicine Poses to Change the Narrative behind the Practice

Monrovia – The Community Healthcare Initiative, a not-for-profit organization that is aimed at improving the healthcare and social services in underserved and hard-to-reach community in Liberia has launched a research to amplify and document traditional medicine and traditional practices in the country.

The research that was conducted in Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties was supported by the Open Society Foundation and OSIWA under the theme: “Strengthening Integrated Health System in Liberia”.

The research was done by JAC Consultant. The event brought together development partners, healthcare providers including members of the Legislature.

Speaking with reporters during the event, the Executive Director of the Community Healthcare Initiative Madam Naomi T. Solanke said, the research is all about amplifying and documenting the traditional medicine and traditional practices that are somehow seen negative in the eyes of many.

According to Madam Solanke, before the coming in of the western medicine, traditional people were providing healthcare services in their communities. She said traditional medicine is essential in some of the far to reach areas in Liberia.

“Traditional medicine has been considered the problem in the health sector but we realized that they are not the problem. Challenges are there in their practices, we realized that but the only way we can be able to make the case for traditional medicine practices is to document their story,” Madam Solanke said.

She added: “What is their benefit, what is their challenges, how can we integrate them because the only way we achieve proper health care services is to integrate the healthcare system in ensuring that the traditional medicine, the Western -where they meet, where are the gaps and how can they complement each other.”

The Community Healthcare Initiative Executive Director says the launch of the research is the first step to show how traditional medicine contributes to healthcare services. This, she added that if both the western and traditional medicines are integrated; the rate of maternal mortality will reduce drastically.

“Trained traditional midwives have challenges; they, too, contribute to the health system to ensure that maternal mortality is being reduced but their voices need to be amplified, they need to be supported, they need to be integrated, we need to ensure that they have agency and leadership instead of creating laws that push them as harmful, they are not harmful, they are helpful within the community.”

“They both contribute to having a good health system. Other countries have started to document traditional medicine. Most often people say that traditional medicine has no measurement. Yes, but if we invest we are going to have a measurement. When western medicine started they too had the issue with measurement but there has been investment into western medicine that is why we they have a measurement. So, if we invest in the traditional medicine we are going to have positive results, she said.

Also speaking is S. Olasford Wiah, the Director for National Community Health Program at the Ministry of Health.

According to Wiah, despite the country has made significant progress over the years, their entire national program in health is donors driven something he said has some level of restriction from donor.

“It’s important for us to know that neocolonialism is still being practice as we speak, whether by big nations, by development partners or even by ourselves. It has made us continued to be dependent, it hampers us in making progress,” he said.

Adding up, Wiah said as a nation, to reduce maternal mortality, there must be regulations set in place to help achieve the “universal indicators”.

“So, over the years, we said we are going to train the traditional healthcare providers to identify cases of pregnant women, work with them, and be able to timely refer them. We do not want traditional health providers delivering mothers in the community for so many complicated reasons.

Representatives Thomas A. Goshua of Grand Bassa said as a representative, one of the goal is to focus on quality health care system in his county.

The Grand Bassa Representative praised the Community Healthcare Initiative for the research. He called on the group to move on to other counties and conduct similar research.

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