Our Programme Foci
Holistic Health (Past Programme Foci)
Where We Work: Yunnan

Sustaining community health —— Songming

Promoting eco-health

Appropriate technology

Longzuishi of Songming County is a Miao village. It is rich in medicinal plants that have been used over generations for both preventive and curative purposes. Thanks to these traditional treatments, health care costs have been greatly reduced. In October 2006, PCD supported a workshop on traditional Miao medicine for villagers from Longzuishi, Dadong and Mengli; the latter two are Hani villages in Mojiang County. It aimed to enhance the understanding of ecological well-being and community health.

Participants came with their unique experience and knowledge of traditional medicines. They were divided into learning groups according to their age and sex to learn from each other through enriching interactions and exchanges of experiences. Joined by other minority groups from the province, the Bulangs and Ainis from Xishuangbanna and Tibetans from Diqing Prefecture, they shared their knowledge of folk medicine and medicinal herbs, and how traditional medicines were promoted in their own communities.

Community health walk

Among other activities, a “community health walk” was organised in Longzuishi Village. Led by local villagers, participants walked as a group via different routes, observed local resources and conversed about matters related to community health. They went through forests, fields and villages, and pondered the impacts of exploitative development practices on the environment and people’s health. On sites where medicinal plants were grown, participants discussed how sewage and refuse should be managed, and how to reduce the application of chemical fertilizers to solve the problem of water pollution.

Participants appreciated the group approach as it facilitates deeper, more thorough and effective mutual learning. They shared the view that health is not only about the well-being of individuals, but also concerns the environment, production systems and the community as a whole. There is a Miao saying that people will be healthy if the community lives in harmony, with a capable leader who brings solidarity against external threats and pressures.

While participants were very positive about these activities, they noted that villagers are still quite suspicious of the effectiveness of traditional medicine as western medicine brings quicker and more obvious results. Another obstacle is the continuous out-migration of young people who readily pick up urban culture and values, and forget, if not dismiss, their cultural traditions.