From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Philippine church eyes traditional cures to beat

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Mon, 25 Aug 2003 17:34:50 -0400

pill-for-every-ill syndrome


Philippine church eyes traditional cures to beat pill-for-every-ill

by Maurice Malanes
Ecumenical News International 

[ENS] Santiago City, Philippines, 20 August (ENI)--Trained health
volunteers from the Episcopal Church in the Philippines are using herbal
medicines, acupuncture and Chinese massage to treat and heal ailing

"God has provided us with everything, and one thing I've learned from my
training [as a health volunteer] is how to use God's resources such as
medicinal plants to help and serve others," said Julius Lammagan, an
Episcopalian lay leader in northern Philippines. 

Lammagan, 28, was among the first batch of 15 people to be trained by
the Philippine Center for Traditional Asian Medicine, a Manila-based
non-government health organization. 

"If each household or neighbourhood has a trained health volunteer or
paramedic and a small pharmacy of medicinal herbs, there is no need for
my parishioners in remote villages to run to the hospital," said Bishop
Alexander Wandag of the Episcopal (Anglican) Church. 

Many of the remote parishes and mission stations under the Episcopal
Diocese of Santiago in northern Philippines, headed by Wandag, have
little access to public health facilities such as hospitals and clinics.

The diocese and the Manila traditional medicine centre are seeking to
break the pill-for-every-ill syndrome. 

Parishioners have yet to appreciate that "the cure for a child's fever
may just be a simple massage and the treatment for a stomach disorder is
a common herb or weed in a family's backyard," said the diocesan
ministry coordinator, Andrea Abellon. 

The community-based health programme includes health education and
preventive medicine and information on "how to harness indigenous herbs
so villagers need not rely on costly medicines," said Dr Vicky Clamor,
executive director of the Manila centre. 

Besides acupuncture and massage, trainees also learn about both the
efficacy and the toxicity of medicinal plants and how to prepare
medicines from plants in the form of syrup, ointment, tincture,
decoction, and capsules or tablets. 

The 15 trainees of the first batch are expected to train other health
volunteers in the various parishes and mission stations of the diocese,
said Clamor. 

Explaining the diocese's emphasis on health, the Rev. Clarence Olat from
Santiago City said: "Our church members can worship and praise God
better if they are healthy and sound so we must work for our wholeness.
How can we pray and worship well if we are sickly?" [389 words] 

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