Doing Development in West Africa: A Reader by and for Undergraduates
This essay explores medical pluralism—the mixing of traditional medicine and biomedicine—in the villages of northern Togo. While villagers have long moved between local and biomedical healing systems, between indigenous healers and the clinic, and accept both systems as efficacious, biomedical professionals have been less eager to endorse such collaboration. Still, there are emergent signs of a new relationship between the two in this village setting—of healers sending patients to the clinics when they are unable to find a cure, and of doctors contacting healers when pharmaceuticals are ineffective. Healers are also increasingly relying on clinic diagnostics (bloodwork to determine whether patients have diabetes or tension meters to see whether they have high blood pressure) before administering treatment with local medicines. Such collaborative potential is also endorsed by the World Bank and the World Health Organization.