Multiple Voices, Multiple Paths: Towards Dialogue Between Western and Indigenous Medical Knowledge Systems

Multiple Voices, Multiple Paths: Towards Dialogue Between Western and Indigenous Medical Knowledge Systems

Rutendo Ngara (University of South Africa, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7039-4.ch024
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Abstract

The Western knowledge paradigm – with its ways of knowing, ways of seeing and its notions of reality - has dominated the global knowledge arena, rendering many indigenous knowledge systems as invalid, illegitimate and irrelevant. This is particularly true for indigenous medical knowledge systems, which have struggled to articulate their voices from the marginalisation imposed by colonialism, globalisation and modernity. This chapter outlines paradigmatic tenets and key conceptions underpinning Western Biomedicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Traditional African Medicine. It explores areas of synergy and contradiction, as well as points for potential dialogue between the medical systems. The chapter suggests that if carefully excavated, explorations into such ontologies and epistemologies can make meaningful contributions to knowledge brokerage, thus promoting inclusivity and ethics in knowledge societies. It therefore makes a case for cognitive justice – ‘the right of different traditions of knowledge to co-exist without duress'.
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Background

The Declaration of the Alma Ata of 1978 expressed the need for urgent action by all governments, all health and development workers and the world community to protect and promote the health of all the people of the world. It declared the gross inequality in health status of the people - both between and within countries - as politically, socially and economically unacceptable. Its goal was the global resolve of ‘health for all by the year 2000’.

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