freemexy: As the health system buckles from COVID-19 pressure

As the health system buckles from COVID-19 pressure


4 Aug 2020 at 08:16am
As the health system buckles from COVID-19 pressure


In Bolivia, people are protecting themselves against COVID-19 and the pandemic of disinformation with what they have on hand. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, social networking sites and the media have been flooded with articles promoting the potentially miraculous healing properties of certain plants.To get more news about chinese herbal medicine, you can visit shine news official website.

As of 29 June, Bolivia had recorded 31,524 official cases and 1,014 deaths. The country’s health system has collapsed and the peak of the crisis is yet to come. Bolivia now finds itself in a “dynamic and conditioned quarantine” with regional authorities responsible for deciding when and how to restart activities or lockdowns depending on the level of contagion.

“The hospitals are full. We need to find a way to prevent the spread of this disease,” a local convenience store owner, who takes homemade syrups every day, told the national newspaper El Deber. Meanwhile for the indigenous people living on ancestral lands, Bolivia’s poorest and most vulnerable population, herbal medicine is their only option.

Before the pandemic, Bolivians tended to use natural remedies alongside conventional medicine. The remedies are spread by word of mouth and are made by the users themselves according to a 2006 investigation by NGO PIEB, entitled “Mentisán, paracetamol or wira wira? Health and interculturality in the neighbourhoods of Potosí“. The title refers to a popular method used for treating a cold, which includes industrialised products such as paracetamol, along with common knowledge of herbs, such as flowers from the wira wira shrub and the popular menthol ointment Mentisán.

This report also mentions the phenomenon of self-care or home care and how this is related to the users’ economic status. 61% of Bolivians live in multidimensional poverty. Bolivia also has the largest informal economy in the world, which comprises 62.3 percent of its GDP. Also, many Bolivians experience discrimination in the healthcare system on the basis of their clothing, occupation, appearance or type of illness, which is another reason for self-care. Overall, 1,720 cases of discrimination and/or racism were reported in just ten years.Demand for these remedies has soared during the current health crisis. The most sought-after herbal medicines are those associated with curing respiratory diseases and boosting the immune system. At the top of the list of most-wanted items are eucalyptus leaves, followed by chamomile, wira wira, bee honey, ginger, matico leaves (an evergreen shrub) and propolis (a resin-like material made by bees). “Eucalyptus is used for coughs and colds. You can use it to make a herbal infusion or boil it and inhale the steam to improve your symptoms,” a traditional medicine vendor explained to the Bolivian news site Urgentebo.

There’s an abundance of information available on these medicines: from serious recipes such as “Remedies from the Mountain,” a handbook on ancestral medicine published by Amazonian indigenous people, to viral posts on social media and WhatsApp chats that contain treatments using conventional and herbal medicines.

Before the crisis, these natural remedies were already widely sold at fixed and mobile market stalls. However, vendors are now selling them in the streets and outside supermarkets. By searching for eucalyptus in Facebook’s Marketplace section, with Santa Cruz de la Sierra as the location, 51 offerings appear in the search results. The majority of these were posted in June and include branches, oils, steam kits, homemade syrups, pills and seedlings.

Although eucalyptus prices are still relatively low, the cost has risen recently. As a result, the mayor of the small town of Quime, Javier Flores, took eucalyptus branches to the Bolivian capital of La Paz where he recommended their use as a disinfectant and distributed them for free in a shopping district of the city.

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