By Maurice Malanes
volunteers from the Episcopal Church in the Philippines are using herbal
medicines, acupuncture and Chinese massage to treat and heal ailing
"If each household or neighborhood 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.
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 program 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 group of volunteers are expected
to train others in the various parishes and mission stations of the diocese,