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The place where Mapuche medicine meets traditional

The province of Neuquén will open the first intercultural health center in which Mapuche and traditional medicine will work hand in hand.

Health and Esthetics

We are talking about Ruca Choroy, the first intercultural health center in the country and the second in Latin America, after Chile. It was the Mapuche community that preferred to call it a health center rather than a hospital. For the native peoples, the idea of hospital is related to illness and death. But this is not the only cultural bridge that must be bridged in order to reconcile two very different cultural conceptions. Ruca Choroy is just the beginning of a long road to western biomedicine and Mapuche medicine. A journey that is the product of 15 years of experience, encounters and disagreements with the native peoples of Neuquén.

With the power of the sun and the moon

It is shaped like a crescent and points east at sunrise. This is the building of the Ruca Choroy Health Center, because the moon is a fundamental part of Mapuche culture. It is taken into account when sowing, collecting medicine (lawen) and knowing when to start taking it and when to leave. The orientation of the rooms was also designed in a particular way, with windows that allow natural light and view of the countryside. There will also be a space for cooking stoves, for Mapuche curators, bone composers, and Yerbats. In addition, it will have a ceremonial space for the machi, who is the top figure of the Mapuche healing ceremony. Another particular detail that the Ruca Choroy will have is that its beds will not be facing west. According to the Mapuche worldview, behind the Andes Mountains is where the dead go. Therefore, for them it is essential that the beds are located facing east.

Who cures the empacho?

Lorenzo Loncón, of the Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén, explained that the conception of traditional medicine is “to separate everything”. The man of nature, the body of the soul. The Mapuche vision, on the other hand, seeks the unity of body, mind and spirit. According to Fabián Gancedo, a doctor who is a member of the working committee with the Mapuche, the new thing about the project is the possibility of choosing. “The patient will be able to choose traditional biomedicine or Mapuche or both.” Another of the novelties of the Ruca Choroy will be the interconsultation for tables not specified in medicine traditional. When a child is “peeking” or has a severe tummy ache — a classic pack — the pediatrician will know what to do. He will refer the patient to Doña María, the Mapuche doctor of Ruca Choroy.

Source: Freedom and Thought

Publication Date: 05/12/2019

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