First traditional medicine workshop presented in Pohnpei

medicine workshop

By Pohnpei State
October 18, 2016
Pohnpei, FSM—The Pohnpei State Department of Health Services hosted its first traditional medicine workshop with technical assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Liaison Office (CLO) based in Palikir Pohnpei and its Regional Office (RO) based in Manila, Philippines.
The workshop was aimed at sharing a quick survey analysis assisted by WHO RO on the use of traditional medicine in the FSM. It was in response to Pohnpei State’s request for technical assistance for relevant Departments and stakeholders. It is also in response to the Fourth FSM NCD Conference that was held in Kosrae last year.

Traditional medicine is a component of the resolution of the 69th World Health Assembly on “Strengthening Integrated, People-Centered Health Services”. WHO RO developed ‘the Regional Strategy for Traditional Medicine in the Western Pacific 2011-2020 framework’ and assists member countries to develop their own country strategy based on the component of the Regional Strategy.
Traditional medicinal practices in Pohnpei are an ongoing practice as they have been for hundreds if not thousands of years. There are several types of traditional medicinal specialists that are known and have been recorded over time including family curers (those who only heal family members); Herbalists (specialists in plant-based medicine) Sorcery; Men’s, women’s and Children’s illnesses or treatments; Masseurs; Diviners; Midwives and Magical specialists.
Despite its cultural and historical significance and perhaps because of its cost saving implications to the overall cost of health care services in Pohnpei, Traditional medicinal practices are still prohibited by law from the State Hospital, dispensaries and clinics. While the ultimate goal is to integrate local healing practices into main stream healthcare services and to provide universal health or affordable healthcare to patients in Pohnpei, the issue remains to linger on how to integrate the Western and Traditional medicine approaches to add value to patients’ care while at the same time ensuring service quality and safety.
In countries like Japan, China and Korea, traditional medicine is fully integrated into their health care services based on evidence of historical use. Similarly, in Pacific Island countries like Fiji, PNG and Samoa, traditional medicine is included in their national policies and laws.
The proposed recommendations by WHO to the Pohnpei and FSM National Governments are based on years of experience in the field of traditional or complimentary alternative medicine and are as follows:
1. To develop a policy/strategy and implementation plan to guide development of traditional medicine at the state level.
2. To collect information on traditional medicine practices and assess role of traditional medicine in health care.
3. To document traditional medicine knowledge, taking into consideration the implications with regard to intellectual property rights.
4. To introduce formal training and regulation (registration) of traditional medicine practitioners.
5. To include traditional medicine practitioners in the community health team to complement primary health care services and to provide sustainable and culturally sensitive support for managing NCD (the Palau Action Statementon Healthy Islands (1999).
6. To encourage coordination between traditional medicine practitioners and Western medicine practitioners at the primary health care level.
7. To encourage collaboration between traditional medicine and Western medicine researchers.

Offices represented in the workshop were the State Department of Education, Historic Preservation’s Office, Health, and several local practitioners, Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP), FSM Department of Health Non Communicable Disease and Cancer Control Program and the FSM National Office of Archives. The FSM Secretary of Health and the Acting Director of Health Services were scheduled to provide the opening and closing remarks but were not able to attend do to last minute scheduling changes.