Traditional Healing Practices – Implications for Healthcare

According to the 2011 census, India is inhabited by 104 million people classified as tribals (i.e., ~8.6% of the country’s population) belonging to over 550 tribal communities and approximately 277 ethnic groups. Tribal communities have totally submitted themselves to the forest setting and as a result of living so close to nature have, over the years, acquired a unique knowledge about the use of local resources. Given they hold precious knowledge on the specific use of a large number of wild plants one could almost consider them as the real custodians of medicinal plants. There is a growing understanding of the pivotal role medicinal plants play in providing herbal remedies to health maladies. According to a study conducted by the All India Coordinated Research Project on Ethno-biology (AICRPE), over ten thousand wild plant species are reported to be used by tribals for meeting their primary healthcare as well as food requirements. Further, there are approximately eight thousand medicinal plant varieties utilised by over two million traditional healers for treating ailments of both humans and livestock. Traditional medicine bequeathed from generation to generation is rich in domestic recipes for common health ailments. The best known examples of traditional medicine, differing in concept and protocol, are well developed systems such as ayurvedic and herbal treatments that have been widely used to sustain human health, especially in tribal regions of India.

1. Bhokar/Shelti – cures kidney stones, diarrhoea and stomach problem

2. Karvand – A rich source of Iron, Phosphorus and Vitamin C

3. Pathari – For ichthyosis (scaling of skin), xeroderma (dry skin). The roots are crushed and the extract is used

4. Kadu kand – Well cooked bulb slices can be consumed to get relief from stomach ache whereas paste of heartwood is used to cure wounds

5. Tetu – It is administered to women to treat leucorrhoea and menorrhoea

Traditional Medicine – Links to Maternal and Child Health

Traditional medicine is critical and has contributed tremendously to the healthcare of both the mother and the child in tribal regions. Jawhar block in Palghar district, Maharashtra is a tribal block having rich biodiversity, especially rice varieties having specific characteristics and uses. The tribal farmers have cultivated diverse rice varieties for purposes such as food security, instant energy provision during peak workload and medicinal use. This wonderful diversity of rice has formed the basis of a nutritious and secure diet for the vulnerable groups of the tribal population, that is, mothers, pregnant and lactating women and young children.

Various ongoing studies conducted by the NGOs such as BAIF Development Research Foundation in different tribal belts across Maharashtra found a number of rice varieties having specific medicinal properties and uses. For instance, one rice variety called ‘Mahadi’ has multiple health benefits; one of them is to cure weakness in women post pregnancy. Other rice varieties include Rajghudya and Kali Kudai (used to increase breast milk in lactating women); Kali Khadsi (for child’s growth and nutrition); Kasbai (used for nebulisation, which gives instant relief from cough) and Dangi (used for instant energy boost), among others.

Furthermore, traditional kitchens, serve as an in-house medical supply store. Tribal regions lack proper healthcare centres. Thus, most of the child deliveries take place at home and not in a hospital. The rate of institutional deliveries is slowly increasing but there is still a long way to go for this to become a rule, rather than an exception. Since most of deliveries take place at home, the traditional birth attendants play a major role in tribal regions. One of the practices performed by the birth attendants in villages is to use materials like cow dung as a disinfectant in the house that helps keep various diseases at bay. The various homemade medications, mostly herbal, for the mother and child are also prescribed predominantly. Restoring the mother to her original physiology is a challenge that the native healers often take up.

Habitat Loss – A Threat to Traditional Medicine

An impending threat to further proliferation of traditional medicine is the rampant loss of habitat. Unregulated harvesting of wild produce coupled with ecological degradation leading to extensive resource depletion and tribal landlessness (and even those who do have land are continuously losing their land to the government or private corporations) are some of the factors posing a grave and growing threat to the conservation of indigenous foods and traditional medicinal plants.

Furthermore, there has been a gradual erosion of indigenous varieties, especially rice biodiversity. Most of the indigenous rice varieties are being replaced by high yielding varieties. These high yielding varieties have not resulted in any spectacular increase in yield in this region. The majority of farmers, especially the resource-poor tribal farmers are not able to afford high quality expensive fertilizers which are normally recommended along with these varieties.

Tribal Healers – Traditional knowledge erosion and threat to livelihood

In addition to the above, there has been a gradual loss of practical knowledge about traditional medicine and healing practices in the tribal regions, during the past couple of decades. This has resulted in poor health status of the most vulnerable sections of the tribal population. Many factors contribute to this knowledge erosion. The most pressing issues pertaining to this knowledge erosion are: a) lack of incentives and recognition. For instance, scientists and researchers collect data and publish their studies but often fail to give the due recognition to the healers. Also, the ayurvedic and allopathic drug companies extract knowledge for research and development purposes, but do not usually share profits with the tribal healers; b) lack of proper documentation of knowledge regarding traditional healing practices; and c) broken intergenerational links (impacting dissemination of age-old knowledge and traditions from older generation to the younger generation), among others.

Tribal healers are known to use their own systems of healthcare with plant and animal extracts. However, in the recent past, factors such as aversion to follow the low income traditional healing practices; gradual shift to more lucrative alternate livelihoods; greater reliance on non-traditional healing practices and high degree of inroads by modern medicine, is threatening the traditional medicinal traditions to proliferate further. The native tribal healers are precious, but, still remain a neglected lot.

Traditional medicine is critical as well as cost-effective (in relation to hospital care) and ensures self dependency on healthcare due to enhanced reliance on the local biodiversity. It must be given the much needed boost.

Further, majority of the traditional healers lack legal authority to heal. Herbal healers need to be identified and honoured. These unsung heroes need to be brought into the fold of the formal healthcare system of India so that unhindered services are made available to the needy in the villages. Further, weeding out unqualified healers is equally important. These healers provide their services to the most interior and under-served tribal regions. Thus, appropriate regulations and government policy actions and support would help streamline traditional healing practices.

With the state administered healthcare systems based on modern medicine unable to tackle the mammoth health challenges in the country coupled with the acute shortage of resources and well trained health personnel to effectively serve each and every one, it is imperative to get traditional healing practices back on wheels. Traditional knowledge sharing, conservation of the rich biodiversity and enhanced focus on tribal healing practices via greater recognition to the traditional healers and thus securing their livelihood is the need of the hour. Furthermore, providing much needed impetus to the time tested traditional medical practices is pertinent for ensuring better healthcare of all sections of the society, especially the most vulnerable section in the tribal belts of the country.

Five Things You Should Know About Home Healthcare

As the population of the United States gets older, and medical science makes it so as to have people live longer,  healthcare  will be the most important thing being discussed in the U.S. for years to come. Perhaps the biggest offshoot of general  healthcare  is home  healthcare . Over the years, the desire for patients to maintain as much of an independent home life as possible while receiving care has become a necessary part of the treatment conversation with little sign of slowing down.

Home  healthcare  can be very complicated. All one needs to do is think about what it would take to treat someone with serious mobility issues away from a hospital. What if a patient has begun to hit the latter stages of Alzheimer’s and requires twenty-four hour monitoring? Most homes are not equipped to handle the amount of retrofitting and renovation it would take to make a home environment as conducive as possible to getting the best care. Still, home  healthcare  is strong.

Beyond the numbers and logistics, it’s important to talk about home  healthcare  as it pertains to maintaining a basic quality of life while still receiving medical treatment. More patients feel that they best way for them to heal and recover is at home with loved ones in an environment that is familiar. It’s hard to argue with this line of reasoning, but you can’t help but feel as though you need more information.

If you’re still not sure about home  healthcare  and what it can mean for you & your family, here are five things you should know about it:

Discuss It Even When It Seems Far Away – Advanced directives and end-of-life documents are not great conversation topics, but they are important and need to take place. Take care of this stuff while you still can.

There Are Variants of Home  Healthcare  – Home  healthcare  can vary from help with errands for the elderly to changing soiled sheets for a bedridden patient. Outlining what you or your family member needs will help you find the right agency to provide services in your home.

It’s All About the Human Connection – Medicine is a sterile, often cold mistress. It’s not friendly. Here’s is where the best home  healthcare  agencies shine. Their employees make the effort to connect with patients so as to make them feel important & help remove any idea they may have about being a burden.

Training Is Vital to Its Success – As such, it’s important to maintain standards for individuals that will be working with our loved ones. The amount of training can vary for employment, so be proactive and ask about it before hiring someone.

Communication Is A Cornerstone – The biggest complaint about caregivers is that there is a lack of communication with patients & patient families. This is unacceptable. A patient and his or her family depends on a caregiver to be there when needed, and a lack of communication is a sure way to cause irreparable harm to the patient-caregiver relationship.

Home  healthcare , like all matters of aging, can be hard to talk about and feel a bit morbid. Nonetheless, it’s important to discuss matters of care and advanced directives because you still can. It does no one any good down the line when cognition has been compromised. You’ve got a lot of good years left. Make the most of them and talk about the hard stuff now so that you can get busy focusing on the great stuff.

Advantages of Healthcare IT Solutions

The  healthcare  industry has grown massively in the last decade. This sector continues to be dynamic in both policies and data. Therefore traditional means of managing this massive data is simply impossible.

Today, it is mandatory for all  healthcare  institutions to partner with  Healthcare  IT Solution providers to create a transparent and reliable platform that is patient-centric. IT companies provide solutions that are easy to implement. These solutions are also compliant with the changing nature of the policies in the  healthcare  sector.

The benefits of a good  healthcare  system are many. These solutions are beneficial to the payers, providers, care management organizations, pharmas and also government  healthcare  organizations.

The advantages of  Healthcare  IT solutions include:

· An interactive platform for payers and providers: The interactions between the  healthcare  providers and the payers are transparent and simplified. Benefits coordination, alerts, notifications, appointment scheduling, digitization of medical records and other features allow a better relationship between the  healthcare  provider and the patient.

· Easy integration with Third Party Data Management Systems: Information exchange becomes simplified with solutions that allow integration with Third Party Health Care record systems and also Health Exchanges. With this facility, support is provided for Remote Health Monitoring as well as Home Based Care.

· Mobility: With the digitization of data, mobility is extremely important.  Healthcare  IT solutions allow easy integration with m-health and health devices.

· Easy access to data: A dedicated Health Cloud provides a secure system for data and content management. Enrollees gain access to several health care services across the globe while complete security of all data is ensured. The built-in Health Risk Assessment and Diagnosis Decision Support System along with several other Health tools makes  healthcare  more effective and reliable.

· Faster processes: Exchange of data is much faster. In addition to that, processes like claims management and payments become quicker with the digitization of all the data and third-party integration.

· Fraud management: By easing the processes of payments and claims management, frauds are averted. Real-time transactions also allow detection of any real-time fraud instantly.

· Patient Centric Platforms: These IT  healthcare  solutions are patient-centric. This means that the data is provided by the patient to ensure better community presence and engagement.

There is an option of several novel technologies such as video conferencing and telemedicine services. With this, the vast  healthcare  industry becomes better connected. The result of this is better communication between several health care providers, accurate  healthcare  solutions based on the reports of each individual and also a more open relationship between the payer and the provider.

Home Healthcare Products

When we have elderly people at home who needs all time medical care we depend on Home Healthcare products rather than rushing to hospital or doctor frequently for a simple check up or any kind of regular medical support. Scientific researches have made it easy for us. Today we have unlimited ranges of products available to choose from according to our need and budget.

Let’s take a look at the top common products that are needed frequently and used widely and are easily available. The first is a blood pressure monitor. It checks systolic, diastolic pressure and pulse rate. It usually has a display screen to show the reading. Many modern machines store as many as 60 readings, which mean we can monitor the improvements for 2 months at least. Companies are even attaching alarm clock facility with it to remind the patient for regular check up of blood pressure. Sphygmomanometers are also used for the same purpose. Only the look of the device and the way it measures the blood pressure is different.

The second thing that is used is a complete blood analyzer. There is a kit available for analyzing blood. It measures blood pressure, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, Triglycerides, ketone, etc. The complete solution for any blood test related needs. Third we have the digital thermometer. It displays the temperature in just 10 seconds and gives a beep sound when done. Glucose monitoring devices are also used. In case of diabetic patient, regular measurement of blood glucose is very important. The device collects the blood by piercing the finger tip and within few seconds the result will be shown in the digital display screen.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) devices measure glucose in the tissue fluid in case of acute diabetes mellitus. There is a sensor attached to it that continuously measure glucose level.

Some people use insulin delivery devices. Ranges of products include insulin syringes, insulin pens, insulin injectors, insulin pumps. The main purpose of all these products is to administer insulin to the patient’s body in case patient has insulin deficiency and advised to take insulin by doctor.

Inhalation devices could be purchased as well. The types of devices available are MDI, MDI & Spacer, Turbuhaler, Nebulizer, Handihaler, Diskus etc. These devices are great support for the asthma patients anywhere, anytime. You may even need to consider acupuncture needles. These are needed for physiotherapy treatments and can be used at home.

An electronic pill dispenser has alarms to alert patient at the time of medication, selects the pill and dose and doesn’t repeat in case any dose is missed. Arthritis and orthopedic aids can be wonderful for some patients. When any organ is injured it makes all daily, easy tasks tougher for us. Arthritis aids products help us do our work on our own at home. These products include dressing aid, button hook & zipper pull, food bumper, hip kit, special utensils, bathroom aids, arm support, mobility aids, heel protectors, pedal support & exerciser, elbow protector, pill crusher etc.

There are many more products in the market and the ranges are huge. Home Healthcare solutions are really helpful for long term treatment phase. These products reduce the time we spend running to hospital or visiting a doctor or therapist and all these are cost effective too when long term need is there.