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Traditional healing practices on decline in North East

A Manipur University official speaking at a workshop on folk and indigenous healing practices, in Imphal on Tuesday. – Photo: Correspondent
 IMPHAL, May 29 - The profession of folk and traditional healing practices is dying in the North Eastern States due to lack of proper support systems on various fronts.

 This information was shared by some practitioners and experts who are presently studying tribal and non-tribal healing practices in the region, during a daylong workshop on ‘Folk and indigenous healing practices in Manipur’ at the Manipur University here on Tuesday.

The workshop was organised by the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP), Manipur University, in collaboration with the New Delhi-based Anthropos India Foundation (AIF) and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts.

“Indigenous forms of traditional healing practices are getting neglected and dying in the region,” rued N Tombiraj, president of All Manipur Maiba Maibi Phurup, a body of traditional healers. “Almost all traditional healers here are very poor and no recognition has been given to them so far.”

However, the primary services provided by these traditional healers to people who cannot immediately access the modern healthcare system in their respective areas, is creditable, a member of the governing body of the Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine, Pasighat, said, adding that the authorities need to look into the challenges faced by the traditional healers.

Sharing similar views during his presentation on traditional folk medicines, Prof P Kumar of the Life Science Department, Manipur University, said that nearly 70 per cent of the population in rural areas is still dependent on traditional medicines. He also expressed serious concern over the reported misappropriation of traditional knowledge of folk medicines in the region.

Sharing her recent findings during a study on folk and tribal healing practices in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, Dr Sunita Reddy, founder chairperson of the AIF, observed that the contributions of traditional healers to the primary healthcare system can be channelised if the authorities concerned develop healers’ huts and herbal gardens at the village panchayat levels.

Stating that traditional healers are disappearing from society due to various reasons, Dr Thiyam Bharat, Reader of the CSSEIP, said even traditional medicines are vanishing due to human pressure.

The workshop, which was moderated by CSSEIP Director Prof Amar Yumnam, sought to find remedies to conserve traditional healing practices.

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