Exploring Knowledge about Fang Traditional Medicine: An Informal Health Seeking Behaviour for Medical or Cultural Afflictions in Equatorial Guinea

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This study explores a range of informal health-seeking behaviors, including the use of Fang Traditional Medicine (FTM) for medical or cultural afflictions in Equatorial Guinea (EQ), the therapeutic methods used, the health problems handled, the learning process, traditional medicine user profiles and the social images of Fang Traditional Healers (FTHs). Ethnography was employed as a qualitative strategy using emic–etic approaches. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 45 individuals, including 6 community leaders, 19 tribal elders, 7 healthcare professionals, 11 FTHs and 2 relatives of traditional healers in 5 districts of EQ. FTM offers a cure for malaria and treatments for reproductive health issues, bone fractures and cultural illnesses. Several methods used to learn FTM are based on empirical observation, and without the need for traditional schooling, unlike with Western medical professionals: for example, watching a family member, or the spirits or ancestors, can reveal healing knowledge. Materials from forests, including tree barks and plants, and rituals are used to keep Fang populations healthy; in addition, two rituals known as “osuiñ” and “etoak” (infusions of tree barks with the blood of sacrificed animals) are the most commonly used treatments. In addition, elders and women are the most active consumers of FTM. FTM plays a relevant role in curing medical and cultural afflictions in Fang communities. The informal health-seeking behavior among the Fang community is conditioned by the explanation model of illness.
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