THE Department of Science and Technology (DOST) launched recently a program that would mainstream traditional healers or albularyo in the medical field.
Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) of the DOST, said they have partnered with the Philippine Institute for Traditional and Alternative Healthcare (Pitah) for a P100-million, five-year survey and research to be able to give certification to the albularyo in 2016.
The partnership between PCHRD and Pitah, a unit of the Department of Health, started in 2012, according to Montoya.
“[There’s] a whole lot of what we call traditional specialties; we just have to go through them one by one.”
Montoya explained Pitah “is actually in charge of looking into and reviewing all the traditional modalities being used by ethnic communities both here and abroad.”
Besides those practicing hilot or massage therapy, Montoya said the program targets the albularyo who also uses herbs.
This practice of using herbs may have a scientific basis, that’s what we are subjecting to further study, Montoya told reporters during the Global Forum 2015 for Health Solutions for the World in Pasay City.
“Some successful herbs became drugs eventually, like lagundi, sambong and herba buena. Herbs derived from traditional health practitioners in the different communities in the Philippines. So, there is worth in what they are doing, and this is part of the traditional knowledge digital library that we are setting up. We are actually looking at all the traditional practices from north to south of all ethnic communities.”
Montoya added researchers are combing the country from north to south to document traditional medicine and practices that are being done in the different ethnic communities in the Philippines.
“And I won’t be surprised if the finding that we will be deriving from this survey will be the basis for some future drugs, or medicine that we can launch in the future.”
Partial results of the survey revealed the practice of albularyo is now part of a “dying profession” because of the onslaught of Western medicine.
“The only reason they are still here is that in the far-flung areas, in the marginal communities, we don’t actually have conventional doctors there.”