Where Culture Meets Health in the Pacific Islands

More than 300 medical professionals attended the Pacific Medical Association conference in Port Vila, Vanuatu, a couple of weeks ago. One of the major topics at the conference was the idea that traditional medicine as a valuable resource for Pacific communities, and that there is a need revitalize them.

Traditional medicine refers to the knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures, used in the maintenance of health and in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness. Traditional medicine has been used for thousands of years with great contributions made by practitioners to human health, particularly as primary health care providers at the community level.

In a recent study, for example, seven out of ten people in Palau self-prepare a medical concoction using Morinda citrifolia L. for diabetes and Phaleria nishidaefor obesity. These are the two most frequently used medicinal plants in the archipelago.

Bananas, Ground Cherry, Basil, Papaya leaves, Crinim asiaticum, Saltbush, the Kamani Tree or Beach Mahogany, and Noni are all used as treatments for various illnesses and ailments in the Pacific Islands. The collection and recording of healing wisdom and knowledge of the Pacific Islanders may someday prove to be of benefit, not just to their people, but to all future generations. The green is not just beautiful on these islands, it is life itself.

Pacific Beats posted an audio clip of Dr. Joe Williams, former prime minister of Cook Islands, who talked about traditional medicine and the growing support for a more holistic approach to health from international bodies at the conference. It is quite interesting.

You can access the audio clip by clicking here.


Pacific fruits

About islandculturearchivalsupport

Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of records pertaining to the cultural identity of island peoples in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia whose national and public archives, libraries, cultural centers, and business organizations are underprivileged, underfunded, and understaffed. The specific purpose for which this nonprofit corporation was formed is to support the needs of these South Pacific cultural heritage institutions by helping to preserve and make accessible records created for business, accountability or cultural purposes. The organization will endeavor to add value by providing resources or volunteers to advise, train, and work among island residents to support their efforts in building their future and preserving their collective memory through the use of modern archival techniques.
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