Monday, March 02, 2015

Blog #4: Africa's Medicine Men Key to Halting the Ebola Spread

Blog #4: Africa’s Medicine Men Key to Halting Ebola Spread

            As the Ebola disease continues to claim the lives of many West Africans, doctors, especially Western doctors, have been looking into ways in which they can contain and kill the Ebola virus, preventing any future breakouts.  However, the medicine men of Guinea say that the Ebola outbreak could have ended long before it became a massive epidemic if they had been included in the outbreak response.  With Western medicine and its consistent failure to produce a successful vaccine to fight against the virus, relying on these traditional healers may be the best approach to end the epidemic.  A medicine man, also called a Shaman, is an individual that is believed to posses both spiritual and magical powers of healing and seeing into the future.  The medicine men of Guinea claim that they have a potion or spell that can treat aliments caused by Ebola as well as a cure to prevent future outbreaks.  They also state that the cure for the disease is knowledge.  Medicine men utilize various plant and animal species to treat the numerous symptoms of the Ebola disease such as fatigue, fever, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea.  With their immense knowledge and expertise on medicinal plants, many Africans prefer to turn to a medicine man for the treatment of illnesses rather than relying on Western medicine.  Some medicine men have agreed to lend their knowledge of healing to Western doctors; however, many are fearful of turning Ebola into an industry.

            I believe that medicine men are very resourceful and many posses key knowledge on how to end the horrible epidemic.  For many decades, anthropologists have been participating in field research in order to study the culture of the Shamans/medicine men to help improve the quality and potency of Western medicine.  They are known to utilize various plants, animals, and techniques that are century’s years old to treat diseases such as diabetes, cancers, and other illnesses.  I believe that their knowledge of healing should not be excluded from the outbreak response to the Ebola epidemic.  Medicine men may be able to create a successful vaccine.

Brandon Smith


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