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Authors

John Rovers

Keywords

traditional medicine, pharmacy practice, medical missions, cultural competence, Mali

Abstract

Pharmacists are commonly members of medical mission teams that provide health care services in underdeveloped countries. Although pharmacists and others often find their service on a mission trip to be positive and life changing, critics of such missions note that Western providers trained in biomedicine frequently lack the cultural awareness to practice effectively in such settings. This paper is a case study of one traditional healer who practices in rural Mali. Although the results of one case from one practice setting may not be generalizable to all cultures, a basic understanding of the healer's beliefs and practices concerning the etiology and treatment of disease, the role of magic and other supernatural therapies, his experience with Western trained providers and the regulatory environment in which he works should assist pharmacists who serve on mission trips to be better culturally prepared.

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