A historical overview of traditional medicine practices and policy in Ethiopia
Background: Although traditional medicine plays an important role in Ethiopian society, knowledge about the extent and characteristics of traditional healing practices and practitioners is limited and has frequently been ignored in the national health system.
Objective: To review history of practices and policies on traditional medicine in Ethiopia.
Methods: A systematic review of available literature on Ethiopian traditional medicine and policy documents was carried out. Google, Pub Med and Medline online internet searches were done to access relevant material. In addition, materials from Jimma University Library and the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health Library were used. Several authorities were also contacted to supplement the literature.
Results: There are a number of traditional medicinal practices that reflect the diversity of Ethiopian cultures. Ethiopian traditional medicine is concerned not only with the curing of diseases but also with the protection and promotion of human physical, spiritual, social, mental and material wellbeing. The many categories of traditional medicinal practices dealing with these different aspects of health include: spiritual healing, prevention, as well as curative and surgical practices. The health and drug policies of the Ethiopian Ministry of Health recognize the important role traditional health systems play in health care. Unfortunately, little has been done in recent decades to enhance and develop the beneficial aspects of traditional medicine including relevant research to explore possibilities for its gradual integration into modern medicine.
Conclusion: The Ethiopian government firmly supports and encourages traditional medicine through its policies as part of the national heritage. Despite these commitments on the policies, the government's ability to implement and provide increased resources for the study, as well as sustainable use of traditional medicine and their integration with modern medical practice has been limited.
The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development Vol. 20 (2) 2006: 127-134