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Health Care In The Global South

4595 words - 18 pages

Health care and usage in the global south has always been a phenomenon of interest to both researchers and policy makers alike. This keen interest is embedded in the special demographic characteristics of this part of the world coupled with poverty and underdevelopment. This region has more than 50% (5.8 billion) of the world’s 7 billion population and a natural population growth rate of over 2% (Population Reference Bureau 2013); coupled with this huge demographic character is high rate of poverty, conflict, famine and high prevalence of infectious and communicable diseases. Compound to this plight, is a weak and bad biomedical health system which barely serve just about 20-30% of its population (Neumann and Lauro 1982). However, a phenomenon of interest in this health catastrophe is the traditional medicine system and its wide usage by the population in many countries in the south. The diversity of traditional medicine and its integration with the culture and beliefs of many societies in the south has encouraged studies and research over the years. The aim of these studies have been to understand the nature of traditional medicine and its ability to succeed where biomedicine has failed – access and usage; it is estimated that up to 80% of the population in the global south depends on Traditional medicine to meet their care needs (WHO 2002)

With the colonization of many countries in the global south, came western lifestyle and social institutions. These social institutions included religion and health. From the onset of colonialism, the colonial leaders in the global south championed the course of teaching and training the indigenes in this region in western ideologies and practices which will foster their development. This sense of purpose led to the promotion of modern biomedicine at the expense of the already existing traditional medical institution. Being shrouded in the mystical and secrecy with little or no scientific background, traditional medicine was seen as not having any value in modern scientific world commenced by the industrial revolution. This legacy of colonial governments in the south was continued and championed by many governments in many of the newly independent countries in the south. Governments gave attention and committed resources to the development of the biomedical health system they inherited from the colonial governments; little or no attention was paid to the traditional medical system. In some countries, strict legislations were instituted to curtail traditional medical practices and legally ban it altogether. For instance, Meade et al. (1988) noted some in countries such as Ivory Coast made traditional medicine illegal although this law is not strictly enforced. Traditional medicine in the global south continues to exist, contrary to efforts over the years to alienate it from the health system in the south.
According to WHO (2002), in Africa an estimated 80% of the population use traditional medicine for...

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