In Bolivia, citizens try to protect themselves with what they have at hand against COVID-19 and the pandemic of disinformation. In social networks and the media, articles claiming the potential for miraculous plant healing have multiplied since COVID-19 hit the country.
As of June 29, Bolivia, whose healthcare system collapsed, registered 31,524 official cases and 1,014 deaths and has not yet reached the highest peak. The country is now in a “dynamic and conditioned quarantine” in which Sub-national authorities define when and how to restart activities or isolations according to the level of affectation.
“The hospitals are full. We must find a way to prevent this disease, “said the owner of a neighborhood store that takes homemade syrups to the national newspaper Duty. While for the indigenous population in ancestral lands, the most vulnerable and impoverished in Bolivia, natural medicine is the only option.
Before the pandemic, in Bolivia the use of natural medicine was already combined with conventional medicine. They are spread by word of mouth and naturally integrated by users indicates the 2006 research of the non-governmental organization PIEB “Mentisan, paracetamol, or wira wira? Health and interculturality in the neighborhoods in Potosí“. For example, a popular a The combination used for colds includes industrialized products such as paracetamol, along with common herbal knowledge, such as the flowers of the wira wira shrub; and the popular menthol ointment Mentisan.
The same publication mentions the phenomenon of self-care or home care and how it is has to do with the economy of users. 61% of Bolivians live in multidimensional poverty; and Bolivia is the world champion country of the informal economy, with 62.3% of GDP. Another reason for self-care is the experiences of discrimination based on clothing, occupation, appearance and type of illness in the health system. 1,720 cases of discrimination and / or racism were reported in almost 10 years.
The multiplication of supply in times of COVID-19
These characteristics were deepened in the current health crisis. The most sought natural medicine is that associated with respiratory diseases and strengthening of the immune system. The list, headed by eucalyptus branches, includes chamomile, wira wira, honey, ginger, matico leaves -a perennial shrub-, propolis. “Eucalyptus is good for coughs, colds. You can drink mate or sahumarte to improve yourself, “explained one traditional medicine vendor in the middle Urgentebo.
Information abounds: from serious recipes such as “Remedios del Monte” of ancestral medicine published by indigenous amazon up publications viral on social networks and WhatsApp chains with treatment schemes that include conventional and natural medicine.
Its commercialization was already common in fixed and mobile stalls in markets. Now it is also offered on the avenues and outside the supermarkets. In a search in the “Marketplace” section of Facebook, with the term eucalyptus and Santa Cruz de la Sierra as location, we found 51 offers, most published in June that include branches, oil, kits for steam, homemade syrups, pills or seedlings.
Although it still has relatively low costs, there was a rise in eucalyptus prices. Given this, the mayor of the Quime town, Javier Flores, took eucalyptus branches to the capital, La Paz, where he recommended them as a supposed disinfectant and distributed them free of charge in a commercial area.
The low prices vary between USD 0.7 and 14.28 depending on the presentation and quantity. They were shared memes that compare them with the costs of testing coronavirus in private facilities, ranging from USD 40 to 200.
And lemon 😪
Geplaatst door MundoCuriosorz op Dinsdag 12 mei 2020
Meme based on a scene from Will Smith in the movie “In search of happiness.”
Bolivian ministries, news media and students believe in the virtues of plants
In Bolivia, the Vice Ministry of Traditional Medicine and Interculturality was created in 2009 and the creation of similar units for departmental and municipal governments was instructed. In 2013, Law No. 459 on Traditional Bolivian Ancestral Medicine was enacted.
In April 2020, such Vice Ministry of Traditional Medicine and Interculturality installed “disinfection booths” in the cities of La Paz and El Alto. They are individual cubes where a person stays 3 to 5 seconds while a pipe system emits steam from eucalyptus, chamomile, wira wira and chlorine.
“The virus has a small capsule that we can weaken with these medicinal plants. The steam is impregnated in the porosity of the body protecting it from harmful microorganisms and bacteria. It is preventive. We don't have to offer a cure, ” Deputy Minister Keel explained to AFP.
These were liked by users, motives of international headlines, and questioned by researchers. “That going through a chamber and having it vaporized does not make any sense, because plants are also not disinfectants,” said the researcher of natural products at the Institute of Diagnostic Laboratory Services and IHealth Research of the state University Mayor de San Andrés, Róger Carvajal to the newspaper Page Seven. The so-called “disinfodemia” around natural medicine is the order of the day.
In addition, the “disinfection property” of plants was mentioned by state units such as the ministries of communication, health and the Bolivian newspaper, which cited later denied evidence.
Also mechatronics students from the private university Military Engineering School designed masks for military use, They are characterized by interchangeable filters with eucalyptus essence. The positive effect of the eucalyptus scent on the masks has been denial by AFP Factual.
The OMS it means to traditional medicine as a possible comfort and clarifies that there is no proven prevention or cure. However, when more than half of the population does not have any type of health coverage, and the Unified Health System is saturated, without personnel or supplies, faith is deposited in the infusions, vapors and gargles of eucalyptus, chamomile and wira wira.