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The Contribution of Traditional Bone-Setters of Maiba-Maibi Laiyeng Pathap in Manipur
- A Sociological Perspective for Public Health Implications -

Asem Tomba Meetei *

'Traditional Bone-Setters of Maiba-Maibi Laiyeng Pathap in Manipur
Traditional Bone-Setters of Maiba-Maibi Laiyeng Pathap in Manipur :: Photo Credit: Asem Tomba Meetei's Fieldwork, 2013



The art of bone-setting for bone fractures, bone injuries, sprain injuries and twisted dislocation etc., and the use of traditional knowledge and technology such as bamboo splints locally known as watchap thaba is a well-known local health tradition since time immemorial in Manipuri society.

The contribution of Maiba-Maibi Laiyeng Pathap, especially by the Sharugi Maiba and their knowledge and hands-on practices have serious implications for public health. Within this domain of traditional knowledge and medicine, the role of medical sociology is paramount for wider dissemination of knowledge for the protection, preservation, and promotion of health and well-being of the masses.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that about 80% of the world populations presently use herbal medicine for their primary healthcare. In recognizing the importance of Local Health Tradition (LHT), the North Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine (NEIFM), which is a National Institute under the Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Government of India was established at Pasighat East Siang District, Arunachal Pradesh.

This is an autonomous institute for folk healing traditions with an objective to strengthen and develop traditional health care practices for the well-being of the nation, with especial focus on the North Eastern Region. As per its website, the institute is equipped with necessary equipment and infrastructure, including a 50 bedded indoor hospital for research on Folk Medicine.

Another very important institute for the preservation, protection, and promotion of health and well-being of the nation is Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT) located at Bangalore. If we look at the global level, China and South Africa have already integrated their traditional systems of medicine into the modern health care system. The traditional local health tradition has contributed a significant health care provisioning within and across the human societies.

The Contribution of Traditional Bone-Setters of Maiba-Maibi Laiyeng Pathap in Manipur has also serious implications for public health. Nevertheless, within the domain of medical pluralism, the folk medicine or the local health tradition is at the medical marginality as Lambert (2012) succinctly stated in her study of bone doctors in India. Mehrotra(2013)

The status and role of AYUSH and local health traditions in public health clearly stated that 'medical pluralism' in India is quite 'undemocratic system of medical pluralism' as the systems of medical pluralism in India is in hierarchical structures. Biomedicine or Modern Medicine always tends to be superior and the Local Health Tradition (LHT) despites its significant contribution in provisioning the health and well-being of the people is always at 'the medical marginality'.

However, people still have faith in the local healers and taking recourse for their health and well-being. In spite of discouraging the rich traditional local health traditions, which have a strong potential to develop for sustainable health care facilities and affordable, the Maiba-Maibi Layeng Pathap in Manipur of all communities should be strengthened and develop to an institute with all the necessary facilities and collaborate with the modern health care systems and research and development on one platform.

The health care provisioning techniques, preservation, and promotion of health and well-being of the Sharugi Laiyeng Pathap will surely enhance and would be a great health care resource for healing different ailments.

More than 90% of the Manipuris preferred folk medicine rather than modern day biomedicine in certain ailments such as jaundice, snake bites, dog bites, stone cases, bone fractures, bone injuries, sprains injuries etc., (Ningombam et al., 2014). It will also help in reducing the out of pocket expenditures for the masses.

The author's scientific paper entitled "Role of Traditional Bone-Setters in Health Care Provisioning in India: A Case Study among the Meetei Bone-Setters in Manipur, Thoubal District", based on his M.Phil work has been selected by the scientific committee of the 9th International Congress on Traditional Asian Medicines (ICTAM IX), which will be held on August 6- August 12, 2017 at Kiel University, Germany with a fully funded scholarship.


* Asem Tomba Meetei wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is Ph.D. Research Scholar, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, School of Social Sciences, JNU, New Delhi and can be reached at tombaasem777(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on July 06, 2017.


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