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Title: Beyond Plants, Professionals & Parchments: The role of Home-based Medicinal Plant Use and Traditional Health Knowledge in Primary Health Care in Ethiopia 
Author: Fassil, Hareya
Date: 2005
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Citation: Fassil H. 2005. Beyond plants, professionals & parchments: the role of home-based medicinal plant use and traditional health knowledge in primary health care in Ethiopia. Ethnobotany Research & Applications 3:37-50.
Abstract: This paper is concerned with the use of medicinal plants and the related lay traditional health knowledge and practices among rural communities in the Bahir Dar Zuria Wereda (district) of Gojam located in the northwestern highlands of Ethiopia. Much of the research on Ethiopian traditional medicine and medicinal plants to date has been carried out in a compartmentalized manner, with researchers from various disciplines pursuing their interests in the subject in relative isolation. Most studies have been driven by a specific interest in the properties of particular medicinal plants, focusing on two main sources of information, i.e., the knowledge of professional traditional health practitioners and the ancient medico-religious herbal manuscripts with which, the religious traditional health practitioners or debterra, in particular, are closely associated. Focus on the professional realm of traditional health has detracted attention from others in the community who may also be knowledgeable about plant-derived treatments and cultural health practices. Due to the resulting overall ‘plant-focus’, relatively little attention has been paid to the local socio-cultural context in which many medicinal plants continue to be used by ordinary local people and knowledge about them developed and passed on over generations. The preliminary findings of a study seeking to address this research gap by focusing on lay community members are presented here. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data gathered through the main phase of the field research (carried out over the period August-December, 2000) is still underway. Nevertheless, this presentation offers an opportunity to discuss some of the general trends and preliminary findings of the household surveys and interviews held with members of five rural farming communities in Bahir Dar Zuria and to revisit the central hypothesis and objectives of the research in light of these findings.
ISSN: 1547-3465
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/152
Keywords: ethnobotany, medicinal plants, traditional medicine, indigenous knowledge, rural health care, Ethiopia, household surveys, interviews, herbal medicine, gender differences, sampling

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