Traditional medicine in public health systems. A view from Guatemala

Lourdes Xitumul Piox


Traditional medicine of indigenous peoples unites ancestral knowledge and know-how, built up over generations through the knowledge and lived experiences of therapeutic practices and magical, spiritual and symbolic thought which differs from biomedical theories. In Guatemala, the traditional medicines of the Maya, Garifuna, Xinka and Mestizo peoples provides an important contribution to the population’s health, understood as “fullness of life”. The Indigenous Peoples’ Health and Intercultural Unit of the Ministry of Health (Guatemala) has started on a road to harmonize both ways of thinking that are the basis of an intercultural approach to health, understood as the  social practices of peoples with their own mechanisms and ways of interpreting their imbalances and problems, through a dialogue between equals, where channels of communication, dialogue and respect are established between cultures and peoples.


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traditional medicine; Guatemala; indigenous knowledge; indigenous health


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