“In the indigenous world, traditions teach that to “live well” one must value the knowledge and wisdom of the elderly, as well as maintain a respectful and harmonious relationship with nature”

Health, from the indigenous worldview, is the result of the application of norms, knowledge and traditional practices of each indigenous people and culture. These are the preventive measures, the prohibitions, the codes of behavior, food and diet, the use of medicinal plants, the healing rituals, the relationship with spiritual beings and with the territory as a whole, among many other elements that characterize the traditional system of health of each people and culture.

Esperanza, anciana kichwa de Canelos haciendo curación con piedra.

From an early age, children and young people receive from their parents, teachings and practices that are of a preventive nature, in order “to not get sick” or “to resist diseases”. Therefore, drinking guayusa (Ilex guayusa) or yoco (Paullinia yoco), taking morning baths, the fasts, and other natural remedies, will strengthen the spirit of the young man/woman and will make him/her have good vision and direction in his/her life. To maintain health, it is also important to preserve good relationships between people, families and other social groups. To achieve this, one must act in a generous, caring and supportive way.

Niños siekopia de la comunidad de Sewaya aprendiendo con mayores sobre plantas medicinales.

Health situation in indigenous communities:

To address the current health problems of indigenous populations in the Amazon, it is necessary to understand the structural conditions that generate these problems. Many current illnesses and diseases are manifested by the deterioration of the general life conditions in their territories. It is not only the scarcity of food resources, deforestation or water pollution, among other factors, but also the abandonment of knowledge and traditional health practices, the negligence of preventive disciplines and the aggravation of intra and inter-community social conflicts.

We feel that a more critical and profound reflection on the current situation of indigenous health is needed, both among indigenous populations and organizations, as well as institutions responsible for providing health services, education and those that offer assistance and development programs. We believe it is necessary to re-evaluate the relevance of traditional health knowledge and practices, as well as the possibilities of their renewal in the current contexts of life.

We support local initiatives and provide advice to the people and communities interested in designing health programs that prioritize the revitalization of their own health systems. Our goal is also to contribute to intercultural dialogue to promote the implementation of culturally relevant, more efficient and more effective health services in order to reduce morbidity rates.

Executive Director, intercultural health programs

With 35 years of experience working on indigenous health, Didier has dedicated a of significant part of his life supporting the revitalization of indigenous cultural and health systems, accompanying various communities and organizations of the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon in the development and implementation of diverse life projects. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be done. Didier is still convinced about the huge value, which encompassesindigenous health systems and traditional medicines in the Amazon. Not merely to help indigenous peoples in attaining a better health and a decent life, but also because this anceatral knowledge and medicine constitute an important legacy for all of humanity.