Rukararwe has a component of traditional medicine (Meditrad) started with mobilization of healers all over Bushenyi District (more than 100 healers)
- Traditional knowledge sharing
- Combination of traditional and modern healing therapies (hence the name medtrad)
- Treatment of different diseases in a herbal clinic run on daily basis on Rukararwe grounds
- Establishment of herbal gardens (domestication of rare medicinal plant species)
- Herbal medicine documentation in written books
- Herbal medicine research and analysis
- Training (youth) on traditional medicine, sustainable harvesting, drug preparation and packaging
- Improved packaging and labeling
In Uganda, 80 % of the rural population relies on traditional medicine for healthcare, alone or in addition to modern medicine. Indigenous knowledge associated with this practice has been handed down through generations.
However, most medicinal plants needed to develop traditional health are not cultivated but harvested in the wild. Encroaching pressures coupled with inappropriate agricultural and pastoral land uses contribute to tree density reduction, and woody medicinal in particular.
As trees are disappearing from inhabited areas, some remedies/knowledge are being continuously lost. Moreover, indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants is fragile and not well appreciated. Colonial laws, such as the 1967 Witchcraft Act still have not been amended and stigmatize traditional healers and their practices.
In addition, the urbanisation of the South West of the country encourage the youth to find jobs in towns, much more attractive in term of income (which is not always true). There is a certain disinterest observed among the youths, which does not find advantages from the traditional medicine. In many cases, the knowledge is not delivered from one generation to another, and perish with the elders.
There is thus a growing need to promote traditional medicine, which is still playing a key role in the healthcare status of the inhabitants. Re-involving the youths, modernizing the remedies and boosting the production are the main challenge of the RPWRD, in order to alleviate poor health condition which still occurs near the project area.
Infrastructure for traditional practises in Rukararwe
The RPWRD has assisted African Traditional Health Practitioners (ATHP) to regroup and organize a Primary Health Care Centre in Rukararwe that has greatly contributed to improved standards of living for rural grass-root communities. They have established a herbal garden for research purposes, and initiated a processing unit for herbal remedies. Moreover, an outpatient clinic has been operative since two decades now and it uses both western and traditional methods of diagnosis.
Efforts to fight Malaria flail
For many decades, it has generally believed that only Western medicine can treat malaria effectively, and there has not been enough research to investigate whether african traditional medicine could have a possible solution. During the recent past, however, malaria parasites have increasingly developed resistance against traditional cures developed by Western medicine, and this has posed a lot of unanswered questions, especially within countries where malaria is predominant.
Although many diseases can be treated at Rukararwe’s clinic, African Health Practitioners have concentrated much more on providing an alternative remedy against malaria. This is a logical step, because malaria claims 30% of the death toll in the country per year, mainly young children, expectant mothers, and, of recent, it has had a devastating effect on the country’s Health system because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Since RPWRD started promoting traditional healing 20 years ago, it has been observed that the national health care system has, for many years, overlooked the important role that traditional healing plays. We realized that a lot of malaria patients receive effective treatment from african traditional practitioners, and as a matter of fact, it is common to find that there are many anti – malaria recipes in different villages.
In 1996, a team of Traditional practitioners from RPWRD collaborated with a Makerere University academic and established that a mixture of three herbal remedies (which are locally available) heals effectively malaria. Their findings have been published in an English medical journal “The Tropical Doctor” Vol. 27 of 1997. A team led by Dr. Merlin Wilcox in 1999 confirmed similar findings and published in a memo that was circulated within the Dept. of Infectious Diseases, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, (UK).