Medicine welcomes Mapuches

Argentina opens its first service center to combine modern Western medicine and Mapuche’s tradition in Neuquen province.

The first intercultural hospital of Argentina-and there is one in Chile is called Ranguin Kien and will be built in Ruca Choroi (Aluminé, Neuquén). This focus seeks to combine Western medicine with the ancient medical practice of the Mapuche people.

The work will occupy 522 square meters and will be carried out by a joint effort between officials and technicians from the Ministry of Health of the province, the rural health team Aluminé hospital and community members Mapuche Aigo and Huenguihuel.

A machi, traditional healer and religious leader mapucheUna machi, traditional healer and religious leader mapucheAriel MarinkovicAFP
The main objective is that the hospital can assist people of different ethnicities and cultures that, if necessary, be addressed under the precepts of the Mapuche medicine. The project is part of the Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization, which establishes separate rights for indigenous peoples, including maintaining their cultural and social practices.

Cultural Union

Fabian Gancedo, hospital doctor Aluminé and in charge of rural care, noted that this work is the product of "15 years of experience with these communities," which allowed an approach and generated "a relationship between biomedicine and Mapuche medicine, each with their value and their techniques. "

Also in the new hospital specific rooms will be created "to furnaces, for curators, bonesetters and herbalists" plus "a ceremonial space for the machi, the greatest figure of the healing ceremony Mapuche" added Gancedo . Another particular detail that will have the Ranguin Kien is that their beds are not oriented to the west, because over there, behind the Andes Mountains, is where the dead go, according to the Mapuche worldview.

Mapuche woman prepares herbal medicines in the Ruca, where the Mapuche Machi serves pacientesMujer prepares herbal medicines in the Ruca, where the Machi serves the pacientesCarlos Barria
Meanwhile, Lorenzo Loncón, the Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén, explained that the concept of Western medicine is to "remove all": the man and the culture of nature, as opposed to the Mapuche vision, where all means "a unit ". According Loncón, the ancient medicine "has shown that, of course, is much better than a chemical or synthetic combination" and that "if all cultures are different, also the medicine has to be appropriate to each culture."

Intercultural policies

Florence Trentini, Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Buenos Aires, told RT that such projects "are positive, because indigenous health practices make visible" and puts "almost level with the hegemonic medicine." In that sense, he rescued that "even in the frames of this medicine and in a hospital, is considering other spaces like the kitchen".

However, Trentini warned that "intercultural policies are not good per se," but "often are thought from above and indigenous participation is later, creating tensions between peoples". In this regard, the specialist added that intercultural education "can not be reduced to the use of plants" or "language workshops".

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