Traditional medicine in Somalia: an anthropological approach to the concepts concerning disease

Published in Vol. IV Studies in Humanities and Natural Sciences “Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Somali Studies”, 1983
In this article, published in the fourth volume of Studies in Humanities and Natural Sciences, following the Second International Congress of Somali Studies, Alberto Antoniotto reports observations made during a research period in Somalia, in particular in Lamadonka village. Illness and traditional treatment are described from an anthropological point of view. Islamic cultural conceptual explanations and therapeutic answers to disease are in use simultaneously - and often integrated - with pre-islamic cultural concepts. Treatments are based on the alleged cause of illness that is generally considered external to the body (i.e. Allah punishment, spirits, other people’s jelousy).
The new social and cultural changes have certainly contributed to the modification of traditional points of reference, even with regard to illness and its cure, what the sick person does not accept is an explanation of his disease in terms which are not comprehensible in his culture, and a therapeutic response not suitable to how his culture has led him to explain and define his illness. Antoniotto wants to underline that the major task of modern medicine is to understand the cultural needs of the sick person and, at the same time, succeed in making itself (i.e. modern medicine) understandable, in order to effectively offer itself as a factor of development in the sphere of health education and care.
Material kindly provided by the Roma 3 University's Somali Archive

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