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Harvey Mudd College

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology

Abstract

Approximately 80% of rural communities in Tanzania utilize the services of traditional healers. This is largely because modern medicine is often expensive, inaccessible, or has undesirable side effects. This study investigates use of traditional medicine in Morogoro Urban district where people do have access to hospitals. In particular, this study aims to assess the utilization and accessibility the plant species Securinega virosa for medicinal use by identifying and interviewing the actors involved in the supply chain from harvester to consumer. I conducted semi-structured interviews with eight traditional healers and one herbal medicine shopkeeper. I expected harvesters to express a decline in the availability of medicinal plants as habitats have been destroyed and the commercial market for herbal medicine has grown. To evaluate utilization of traditional medicine by local people, I conducted surveys of fifty-one individuals. I expected use of traditional medicine to be correlated with education level and that people would prefer traditional medicine because it was more accessible (fiscally and in terms of location). I determined that Securinega virosa is used in Morogoro Urban to treat a variety of diseases including dysentery, diarrhea, cholera, stomach problems (gastritis, ulcers, pain, etc.), uterine diseases, menstrual problems, infertility, venereal diseases, hernia, and intestinal complications. Traditional healers in Morogoro harvest their plants from both the wild and from farms, from both in and out of Morogoro. There are indications that accessibility of medicinal plants has decreased due to worsening environment, disappearance of plants (possibly due to habitat destruction and over exploitation), government restrictions on harvesting from the wild, and an increase in commercial harvesting. Even though hospitals are accessible in Morogoro Municipality, over seventy percent of survey respondents reported to using traditional medicine. Further, a system has developed where many people get tests from hospitals in order to get a diagnosis and then may choose to receive herbal treatment. Notably, the data showed no correspondence between education level and using traditional medicine.

Disciplines

Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Biodiversity | Botany | Environmental Sciences | Pharmacology | Plant Sciences

 

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