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The place where Mapuche and traditional medicine converge

The province of Neuquén will open the first intercultural health center where 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 and not a hospital. For native peoples, the idea of hospital is related to disease and death. But this is not the only cultural bridge that needs to be saved in order to reconcile two different cultural conceptions. Ruca Choroy is just the beginning of a long road from Western biomedicine and Mapuche medicine. A path that is the product of 15 years of experiences, 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 to the 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 planting, for the collection of medicine (lawen) and to know when to start taking it and when to stop. The orientation of the rooms was also thought out in a particular way, with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow natural light and views of the countryside. There will also be a space for cooking stoves, for Mapuche healers, bone composers, yerbateros. In addition, it will have a ceremonial space for the  machi , which is the highest figure of the Mapuche healing ceremony. Another particular detail that 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, it is essential for them that the beds are located facing east.

 Who heals the empacho? 

Lorenzo Loncón, of the Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén, explained that the concept of traditional medicine is “to separate everything.” To the man of nature, to the body of the soul.  Mapuche vision , on the other hand, seeks unity of body, mind and spirit. According to Fabian Gancedo, a member of the working committee with the Mapuches,  what is new about the project  is the possibility to choose. “The patient will have the possibility of choosing traditional biomedicine or Mapuche or both.” Another novelties of Ruca Choroy will be the interconsultation for paintings not specified in  traditional medicine . When a child is “peek” or has a severe tummy pain — that is, a classic bag—the pediatrician will know what to do. You will refer the patient to Dona Maria, the Mapuche doctor from Ruca Choroy.

Source:  Freedom and Thought 

Publication Date: 05/12/2019

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