Accepted Paper:

Integrating traditional and modern knowledge of malaria among the Sabaot of Mount Elgon in Kenya  

Author:

Godfrey Kipsisei (SIL International)

Paper short abstract:

People assume inevitable conflict between modern and traditional medicine. Although Kenya’s Sabaot embrace traditional medical knowledge, they also use modern medicine. With reference to Sabaot traditional knowledge of malaria, how the traditional and modern systems complement each other is offered as an example of how to confront malaria in Kenya.

Paper long abstract:

Some people assume there is an inevitable conflict between modern and traditional medicine. They assume that, if folk societies hold largely traditional concepts of disease causation, treatment and prevention, they will therefore largely reject modern medical services. The majority of Kenyan communities, including the Sabaot, hold medical concepts that are largely traditional. Although this hinders effective communication between modern healthcare providers and traditional clients, it does not prevent Sabaot from using modern medicine selectively. The relationship between the modern and traditional Sabaot systems is shown to be multifaceted, not just competitive, supplementary or complementary.

The paper contributes toward bridging the gap between the modern and traditional Sabaot systems by providing data on Sabaot concepts and practices concerning malaria. Various types of remedial practices are described, including ill-founded and ineffective ones. How the traditional Sabaot and modern systems complement each other is offered as an example of how to confront malaria in Kenya effectively. People in medicine and healthcare are encouraged to use such a blended approach in order to create mutual respect, encourage local participation and build partnership for joint problem resolution. The goals are improved community well-being and thus more readily sustainable socio-economic development.

In concluding, the paper looks at the interaction between the two systems and some possible policy options. The paper as a whole sees itself as critical for contemporary policy makers, health providers and disseminators of health information among Sabaot.

Panel IW08
World in Europe