|A bartender concocts jamu, a traditional herbal drink believed by many to be|
a remedy for various ailments, at Jeng Ratu Jamu Bar in an agricultural
business exhibition in Temanggung, Central Java. (Antara Photo)
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The Health Ministry has vowed to bring order to the mushrooming number of private clinics offering traditional healing options, where some claim to be able to provide total cures for even the most serious of ailments.
“If they are effective, we will support them. If not, we will of course stop them, because they would only take advantage of people,” said Slamet Riyadi Yuwono, the Health Ministry’s director general for nutrition, maternal and child health.
He said he was aware of, and had often seen on television, the many traditional healing practices in Indonesia that promise comprehensive cures for diabetes, hypertension and even cancer.
Slamet did not detail how the ministry would gauge whether a traditional healing practice was safe and effective.
The government is supportive of traditional medicine, he said, as long as the methods are proven safe and effective.
Slamet said one of the government’s health care strategies was to integrate traditional healing practices with conventional medicine.
The ministry official said there were now 30 hospitals that had integrated traditional healing with modern medicine. Slamet added that the government aimed to more than double the number of such hospitals to 70 by 2014.
He also said the Health Ministry would conduct further research on which plants possess medicinal properties and could potentially be used to make traditional cures.
“It is too late, indeed,” he said of the effort. “But it is better to be late than never.”
He said one of the problems with Indonesia’s traditional medicine was that even though the practice had a long history, scant written records existed.
Abidinsyah Siregar, the ministry’s director for traditional, alternative and complementary health practices, said one way to rectify that shortcoming would be to revitalize the Center for Traditional Cures and Health Services (SPPPT).
Abidinsyah said the SPPPT was established in 1985 but had not been active for many years.
Revitalizing an SPPPT in each province would also allow for the establishment of an information network to share the various traditional healing methods practiced across the archipelago. The network would, in effect, consolidate and disseminate local wisdom.
“We are a country with vast natural resources, but if we look into shops selling traditional medicines, most of the products come from China or Japan. Where are ours? This is what we need to put some order into,” Abidinsyah said.
Research conducted by the Health Ministry in 2010 showed that traditional medicines continued to play an important role in the country’s health services. More than half of those surveyed said they were loyal consumers of traditional healing potions, known as jamu.