Indigenous and intercultural health systems

For today or tomorrow?

Without a doubt, the current health crisis has pushed the issue of health to the forefront. In other words, health, which in a «normal» situation used to be one of our last concerns, has now become a priority.

We all know that this issue used to be left to the last moment. And if we were was talking about that, it was more to demand that public health institutions fulfil their responsibility, to provide the proper care services; that is, with infrastructures, professional medical staff and medicines, above all. (As it is now…)

At times, someone would mention the importance and the need to also value, recover and strengthen our own medicine. But, in general, it was no more than beautiful written resolutions, which were soon forgotten…

In mid-April, we published some first reflections on the health crisis, in an article entitled «Building Bridges between Today and Tomorrow – A Message to the Indigenous Peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon». Referring to the theme of recovery and strengthening of indigenous systems of traditional medicine, it was said:

– «…the results of these processes of cultural reaffirmation, throughout the last 35 years, have not achieved the results that many expected ….to achieve their autonomy. Could it be that the current health crisis offers us a new opportunity to do so? Could it be that this is the moment to fight again to retake the proposal of creating our «own health programs«?1

Without a doubt, the Covid-19 epidemic has «allowed» all this to become even more evident, and painful as well.

Today, we ask ourselves – and we ask you, if these reflections have generated some answers to these questions. That is, if from our self-determination we are more prepared to seriously consider the importance and the urgent need to start thinking about what and how we can do to design and implement our own and intercultural health programs and projects.

We must first think about interculturality, whether in health, education, or the economy, from our own perspective. The interculturality thought and proposed from «the other», still does not manage to escape from its ethnocentrism and prejudices.