Treating patients the safe way by local healers

Besides the modern and traditional medicines, Bhutanese also depend on local healers to treat for treatment. While local healers use skills inherent to them and indigenous to their locality, it mostly involves sucking blood and lacerating. However, such practices often raise questions on the safety and risks of transmission of contagious diseases. To address such issues, an awareness campaign on safe treatment is underway in Mongar and Tashigang.

Five groups of officials from the department of traditional medicine under the health ministry are in Monggar and Trashigang, advocating local healers on the risks of contagious diseases and their safety measures.

According to the Chief Program Officer of the department, Dorji Tshering, during the program, they familiarise the healers on safe treatment practices.

“We also urge them to refer the patients to the nearest health centres if they cannot treat them through traditional healing practices,” he said.

For the participants, such a program is an eye-opening experience.

A healer from Thangrong Gewog, Karchung has been treating patients with headaches and stomach ache for many years, by sucking blood. But he said he has been doing it not safe all these years. “But now I now understand the risks associated with it, I will practice it safely,” he said.

Like Karchung, other healers have also been not aware of the risks of transmission and safety measures. The advocacy program familiarised the healers about disinfecting equipment before and after use.

According to the Nationwide Mapping and Documentation of Local Healers in Bhutan 2019, more than 70 per cent of the healers, mostly in the east have not attended any health awareness program. This, according to the department, poses a huge vulnerability in the transmission of contagious diseases.

However, such a program will help address the risks.

The first round of the sensitization program for local healers began in Lhuntse from September 27 to October 4. About 90 local healers and local leaders attended the program. The advocacy program would be replicated in other districts as well.

Meanwhile, there are more than 2000 local healers in the country today.

Sonam Tshering, Monggar

Edited by Chayku

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