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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 08:28 GMT
Healers marry hi-tech and tradition
The Community Centre for Enhanced Health Technologies, BBC
Centre survives by selling the remedies it catalogues
Technology is often relentlessly forward-looking and exalts what is new over what works or what is preferable.

But a marriage of tradition and technology in Senegal is helping to show that opposing forces can sometimes attract and gain much in the process.

Healers who brew medicines from indigenous plants are using computers to help preserve their knowledge and to provide them with an income.

The centre is also becoming a useful pharmacy of useful plants and medicines for local residents.

Health visitor

The Community Centre for Enhanced Health Technologies (CCTAS) in Yeumbeul, Senegal has been created to ensure that the valuable knowledge gathered by the regions traditional healers is not lost to posterity.

The centre is gradually expanding two databases; one of healers and another of the medicinal plants they use and the ways they prepare them to treat sick people.

"We try to integrate traditional and modern medicine," said El Hadji Cheikh Tidiane Thiam, Director of the CCTAS.

CCTAS label, BBC
Even the labels are home-grown
As well as building up its database of traditional medicine the CCTAS is also harvesting, storing, preparing and selling samples of the many plants that the traditional healers use.

It also prepares and prints its own labels for the different plants and uses the money raised from the sale of the plants to fund its existence.

Drinking holes

The centre is also helping improve the health and sanitation of local residents.

It is involved in a project to ensure that people have access to clean water and avoid falling prey to many of the diseases common in the region.

"We have a lot of malaria and no running water or sewer," said Mr Thiam. "People just used holes."

"But," he said, "now we are trying to get people organised."


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See also:

24 Jun 02 | Business
18 Sep 00 | Africa
13 Sep 02 | Health
05 Jun 00 | Africa
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