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Why have NGOs not been able to link effectively with dais?

NGOs, like government health services, have relied almost exclusively on the allopathic model of therapeutics and so have not actively identified local health care providers, resources and customs. Unfortunately, in the provision of services approach by NGOs, even health workers drawn from the local communities have themselves turned their backs on their own health care practices and practitioners. (video clip from film on Saroj’s grandmother)

The language of partnership is being used in development and safe motherhood circles and partnership with indigenous practitioners of all sorts (as well as the hybrid practitioners who freely mix therapies and systems) is essential.

What could NGOs do to begin to operationalize this partnership approach?

  • Sensitize NGO workers to the importance of viewing local communities as decision-makers rather than ‘the downtrodden’ and recipients of ‘charity.’
  • Educate NGO workers to recognize the value of indigenous and complementary medicine, particularly in the area of women’s health.
  • Bring in accomplished and experienced dais (as assessed by their own communities) as resource persons in planning and training programs.
  • Develop skills assessment methodologies based on both ISM and biomedicine.
  • Facilitate the transfer of ISM skills and knowledge from the older, experienced practitioners to younger people.
  • Create linkages with PHCs, subcentres, clinics and hospitals for backup for dais, so that they and their patients are received effectively.
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