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Due to rapid modernization, traditional healers are fading away. We should therefore support traditional healers and traditional practices. The mission of health tradition is to revive local practices including beliefs and customs related to health. Traditionally people have outstanding knowledge on medical plants. These are handed down over centuries. In most rural areas, if someone is sick he or she receives treatment from traditional healers who are also called folk healers (Shankar, 2010). Each community has its specific Local health practices and beliefs passed through generations mostly by word of mouth. Folk healers use locally available plants and animal material in treating their patients. They analyze vital point in the body to make a diagnosis and treat the patients. These local healers use methods such as examination of urine, poison treatment and pulse diagnosis.
Traditional healers include community based traditional workers, herbal medical practitioners, bonesetters, spiritual healers and midwives. They treat diseases such as jaundice, children diseases, poison healing, paralytic conditions and dentistry. Compared to classical systems of medicine, they assist over 70% women living in rural areas during deliveries; they treat up to 40% of broken bones and over 40% dog, snakes and scorpion bites (Drewnowski & Evans, 2001). They apply therapeutic technique such as cauterization, purificatory and rejuvenate in treating dislocated joints and surgical operations. Apart from treating the sick, traditional healers also handle physical condition in domestic animals.
Most of these traditional healers practice medical services on part-time basis. Apart from handling patients, one may be blacksmith, farmer, shopkeeper or a barber. Treating patients mostly is done on non-commercial and ethical basis. The patients as a sign of appreciation may be required to pay a small fee. The low fee charged is the main reason why traditional medicine is appealing to many rural dwellers.
Health maintenance involves procedures that prevent illnesses, uphold maximum function of the body and promote health. Health protection involves preventing citizens from harm, infectious diseases, and minimizing impact whenever there are occurrences such as chemical spills poisoning or radiation (Leininger, 1984). Beyond these, health protection agencies have the responsibility of monitoring premises and activities that affect the health of citizens. These include intervention programs, which provide safety and minimize risk on health. Health protection at community level includes childcare and residential area care. Health restoration involves programs that maximize a person's chance of living longer. Most of these programs are applied on patients living with diabetes. They include change of diet, exercising programs and change of thought patterns about health and life in general.
In India's more than 4000 ethnic communities, traditional health specialists use various plant species and animals in treating health problems. Around 8000 plant species, which accounts for more than half of flowering plants of India, are used in these treatments. Traditional health specialists acknowledge the existence of spirit, soul, mind and body. All treatments that are given to patients are applied with respect to these four dimensions. Traditional healers in India therefore believe that for one to achieve perfect health, a combination of these four areas needs consideration. They apply Bio-physiological principles including excretory processes, metabolic processes, intellectual faculties and the self in the treatments.
Traditional health and healing in Arab community dates back to the earliest recorded history. They follow a system of pathology developed by Hippocrates. The traditional health specialists consider the body in terms of blood, phlegm, yellow and white bile. These they believe correspond to fire, air, water and earth respectively. They believe that each components of the body posses two natures. For instance, they consider blood as hot and moist while black bile is cold and dry. For one to be healthy, all the four components of the body should be in equilibrium. Generally, traditional cure aimed at removing excess or adding whenever there is deficiency in any of these four hummers. For illustration, a patient can be described as lacking cold and moisture in a particular organ.
Traditionally medicine and treatment of the sick was an important aspect in the lives of the Greek. Ancient Greek culture placed priority on healthy lifestyle. Medical practice was based on religious beliefs. The cult of Asclepios was popular in many communities and Greeks believed it to be a main provider of health care. Philosophers initiated a tradition of analyzing the cause of sickness rather than observing the symptoms and trying to cure it.
If we compare the three different cultures, the Indians, Arabs and the Greeks, one finds numerous differences among these cultures (Hammad Et al. 1999). The Indians use the local resources to cure the sick. Various plant species and animal material are processed then given to patients to consume or are applied on patients bodies. The Arabs developed a different belief; they classified the components of the body in four categories. In order to understand the functions of the four in the body, they gave each one a name depending on its nature. The Greek on the other hand based their medical practice on religious beliefs. In addition, since Greeks are great philosophers, they believed in the theory of cause and effect. No wonder they searched beyond the symptoms in order to create cure for various ailments. Application of these procedures prevents illnesses, limit infectious diseases and restoring patients' chance of living longer in the different cultures.
My family, being Christians does not follow any of these traditions. It is true that most of these procedures work. That is to say that If my parents, brother or sister is sick, application of traditional medicine might restore there health. However, considering that all these traditional medicine have religious allegiances, I would prefer the modern treatment. Indians use various tree species and animals in treating the sick and at the same time, they worship these trees and animals (Beaudry Et al. 2004). The view each tree or animal in a spiritual aspect and if you are healed from them, they believe that it is the spirit in the tree or animal that caused you to get well. The Arabs and the Greeks have similar beliefs though in varying degree of seriousness. Therefore, my family does not subscribe to these traditions and practices.
Before I made the decision to become a nurse, many outstanding nurses in history influenced my decision. I analyzed the work of famous nurses like Florence Nightingale. I realized that nursing is not only a profession but also a call. For one to be a nurse, she has to have specific abilities and desires to be one. Our decisions and actions are influenced by the professional values that we have. As a nurse, I care for sick patients throughout their illness. If my beliefs were not based on proper professional values, then it would be impossible to give the patients the exceptional care (Boyle, 2000). The proper values, which are also the basis of nursing profession, are human dignity, altruism, social justice and autonomy. These values enable us to care, have compassion and be generous in performing our duties. Every decision I make is patient centered and has the patient's interest at heart.
Since most traditional medicine have the capacity to heal patients. They should be encouraged especially in rural areas. More than 50% of people living in rural areas depend seriously on traditional specialists. The government should also consider sponsoring more research to integrate traditional medicine with modern medicine. Such research would assist in curing diseases that modern medicine alone could not cure. The outcome would benefit everyone, those in rural areas and in cities.