‘My name is Ramadhani Ngoma from Choma, a village on the Uluguru Mountains Apart from farming for my own needs I’m contributing my forces to our village’s reforestation project. In doing so I got to know several tree species which are said to have medical benefits,’ says the 30 years old farmer. He decided to join this course to deepen his knowledge and to get access to cost-saving and efficient medicine for his community and for himself, too. Rehema Iddy Maudi pursues similar objectives: ‘We are a women’s group and have done the trainings on organic farming with Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT). Not only are we concerned about health in the context of agriculture and food, but also when it comes to healthcare. We’re currently building a dispensary in Kenge thirty kilometres away from Morogoro town, on the Uluguru Mountains. We’d like to support our village community with good and affordable medical care.’ Up to now the villagers from Kenge have been forced to walk a long way in case they have not been able to resolve their health issues with homespun remedies. The closest dispensary lies several kilometres of walk away.
Four female and four male participants have joined the course. Whereas the expectations regarding the course’s learning objectives are very similar among these people, their personal background is very different. Dr. Peter Feleshi, instructor of this course, has a very good way with this diversity in the classroom. One of the participants, who cannot read or write, gets sufficient support to understand and follow the content of the course. Likewise, the experienced facilitator shows a lot of patience when it comes to answering the learners’ questions and he has a humorous way of dealing with misunderstandings on the side of the participants. But above all, through his way of interaction, Dr. Feleshi exemplifies what he expects from a health counselor: a human touch, a real interest in the counterpart as well as an open way of communicating. The latter in particular involves sharing one’s knowledge. Neither patients nor interested colleagues should be deprived of the information about what a certain remedy contains or how it can be produced.
Consequently, a substantial part of this five-day course is dedicated to the practical production of natural medicine. Preparing medical tea properly, boiling a decoction, producing oils, ointments and even soap: All of these processes are practiced by the participants with the guidance of Dr. Feleshi. What might not appear to be very remarkable to a layman is in fact the solution for the most common serious medical problems – infusions made of medicinal plants. They can be used to efficiently treat malaria, cholera, amoebic dysentery, bilharzia and urinary tract infections, only to name a few. The tea made from the leaves of Moringa oleifera strengthens the human’s immune system to such an extent that it is used successfully to support people living with HIV. The diversity of powerful herbal remedies is striking and the fact that a considerable percentage of these plants can be found in the people’s surroundings is a key advantage.
‘Should you observe signs of stress in Artemisia annua anamed, you should immediately harvest the leaves. As soon as this plant blossoms it loses its medical efficiency. Under no circumstances should you wait for the plant to produce its seeds,’ explains Dr. Feleshi. Artemisia annua anamed is a hybrid from two Southeast Asian Artemisia annua species. It is highly efficient in treating malaria. However, due to the laws of heredity successive generations of such crossbreeds would not consistently show the desired characteristics. This is why Peter Feleshi conveys to the students ways of propagating this hybrid without using its seeds.
The term anamed in this plant’s name refers to an organisation of the same name. ANAMED(Action for Natural Medicine) is based in Germany, has its subgroups in nineteen countries on four continents and promotes health and food provision which are self-responsible, self-empowered, sustainable and accessible to all. These objectives are reflected in many of those of SAT. That is why every year SAT invites Dr. Feleshi as an external facilitator for the course in natural medicine. In this course it can be clearly felt that ANAMED stands aloof from miracle healings. The participants are carefully taught what is within and what is beyond their competences. On the last day of the course every trainee is handed on a course diploma subject to the basic rules of ANAMED. It entitles its owner exclusively to clearly defined treatments and counselling within primary health care. This diploma is only renewed if refresher courses are attended. For the treatment of serious diseases professional medical examinations and monitoring of the corresponding laboratory values are indispensable.
‘With this diploma, your books and with the remedies we’ve produced together in this course you’ll first visit the chairperson of your domicile, then the health officials and eventually the closest dispensary. Explain what you’ve been trained in and express your interest to collaborate with healthcare professionals,’ advises Dr. Feleshi the newly qualified healthcare counsellors. ‘Take your time to gain experience in one field first. Steven, for instance, could focus on accompanying treatments of gastric diseases whereas Amina could turn to the treatment of the skin diseases we’ve discussed.’
Visibly proud of their achievement Ramadhani, Rehema, Amina, Steven and the remaining four participants receive their diplomas. The foundations are laid to put their wish into practice to help their community in case of medical issues. They now enter the period to gain their first practical experience and to this, that much is revealed by their beaming faces, they are all looking forward.