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Salud colectiva

Print version ISSN 1669-2381On-line version ISSN 1851-8265


MENENDEZ, Eduardo L.. From the pragmatic use of traditional medicine by the health sector to the ideological exclusion of anthropological perspectives: the case of Mexico (1930-2022). Salud colect. [online]. 2022, vol.18, e4051.  Epub May 21, 2022. ISSN 1669-2381.

This article analyzes two general lines of research on traditional medicine used by Mexican indigenous peoples since the 15th century up to the present day. The first - pioneered by anthropologists and physicians with anthropological training - addresses traditional medicine so as to promote biomedicine among indigenous groups, with the purpose of improving their health conditions. This line of research developed between the 1930s and 1960s, reemerged in the mid-1970s with the Alma Ata Conference, and has maintained momentum into the present day, seeking to expand coverage of the health sector in marginalized areas, but while subordinating traditional medicine to biomedical programs in all aspects. The second line of research has been fostered by anthropologists, in particular from the 1960s onward, and seeks to comprehend indigenous cultures through traditional medicine, with a particular focus on healers, who express the cosmovision, identity, sense of belonging, and cultural autonomy of indigenous peoples. However, these enquiries attempt to comprehend and validate the ways in which traditional medicine encapsulates cultural identity, and in some cases to justify political, economic, and above all ideological objectives. These perspectives do not take into consideration information regarding morbility, mortality, and life expectancy, despite the fact that indigenous peoples are the social group with the highest mortality rates and lowest life expectancy.

Keywords : Health of Indigenous Peoples; Traditional Medicine; Allopathy; Mexico.

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