Accepted Paper:

The use of traditional medicine as an observation during fieldwork in Brazilian Amazon  


Margret Jaeger (SFU University)
Luis Saraiva (UFPA)

Paper short abstract:

The study about health politics for early detection of breast cancer, prostitutes and HIV pointed out how women handle in the Brazilian Amazon Region health risks and illnesses which often without the support of conventional health systems, but by the use of traditional knowledge and medicine.

Paper long abstract:

Two researchers of different sex, language, cultural background and education are working on aspects of woman´s health in Belém do Pará, Brazilian Amazon Region. In our projects with prostitutes, HIV and health politics for early detection of breast cancer, we are confronted with a reality were women suffer from diseases, lack of health services and other dangers.

The living reality in the Amazon Region is especially hard for women. On the one hand, there is a lack of doctors, health services and hospitals; and on the other, there is the tradition of the use of plants for healing passed down through the ages from the people's indigenous ancestors.

During conversations with women of different ages and life situations, we made observations, held discussions and asked for their perceptions of health and health services. We received from this information about health and illness beliefs, recipes and explications of how and why they make use of plants and traditional healers.

In a minority of public health services in Brazil, they are starting to use the traditional knowledge and medicines to cure people, often motivated both by lower costs and by people's belief and trust in this form of medicine.

Panel W014
From medical pluralism to therapeutic plurality: medical anthropology and the politics of diversity, knowledge, and experience from multiple perspectives