An investigation into utilization, beliefs and practice of indigenous medicine in Sri Lanka
Background: Most countries pose their own indigenous knowledge systems. Native knowledge on indigenous medicine is one of the knowledge systems widely used in many countries in Asia and Africa. In some countries, 80% of the population depend on indigenous medicine for primary health care. Sri Lanka is an island enriched with a wellestablished indigenous medical system.
Materials and Methods: The objectives of the study were to identify characteristics, usage patterns, and perceptions of communities concerning indigenous medicine. Beneficiaries of indigenous medicine were selected through purposive sampling for this study. The data were collected through a documentary survey and interviews.
Results: The study identified that the indigenous medical system of the country is called ‘DeshiyaChikitsa,’ ‘Sinhala Vedakama,’ or ‘Hela Vedakama,’ which encompass ritual healing practices, astrology, religious observances, and spiritual powers. Different approaches of people including the use of domestic medicine, obtaining the assistance of astrology, and rituals were identified. Regardless of age, level of education, or employment, communities trust indigenous medicine as a primary or a secondary option on the health care system of the country. The survey identified the growing demand for the indigenous medicine.
Conclusion: Around 60 to 70% of the rural population which is comprises 77.3% of total population relies on indigenous medicine. Domestic medicine, astrology and rituals associated with indigenous medicine plays a vital role in people’s health care process. Experts in indigenous medicine are scattered in the country.
Keywords: Indigenous Knowledge; Indigenous Medicine; Medical pluralism; Rituals; Sri Lanka Abbreviations: LKR - Sri Lankan Rupee
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