Project Bwanga has developed a system of portable mobile clinics run by local traditional healers to provide meaningful and effective health care to hunter-gatherers and other remote forest people. It enables these communities to have access to health-care that is free from discrimination and restrictions.READ MORE
The project trains community-selected healers to effectively diagnose and cure the most commonly experienced diseases using a limited set of generic drugs, and ensures the inclusion of hunter-gatherers in vaccination campaigns for the most common childhood diseases (following Congolese Government guide lines).
The project has so far trained 20 community-selected healers to effectively diagnose and treat the 10 most commonly experienced diseases using a limited set of generic drugs. Using a ‘step-wedge’ approach subsequent trainings teach further skills e.g. diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases, STI’s as well as giving antenatal care and health education about HIV/Aids, tobacco & alcohol.
The Congolese Health Service delivers vaccination programmes and some free medicines for certain diseases via outreach programmes but struggles to serve remote forest communities. For the majority of the population of Northern Congo the few existing public and private hospitals or health posts are too far away to reach.
Project Bwanga addresses this problem by:
It is obvious that the training of a largely non-literate people in the use of western medicines and their safe dosages requires an adapted approach. The project has developed a system to label medicines with pictograms rather than writing, to explain dosages using pictograms, a financial accounting and stock management system for the innumerate, and a training strategy adapted to non-literate people.READ MORE
Project Bwanga Cross-Cultural Training Outline:
In 2021 the majority of Mbendjele are non-literate. Knowledge is transmitted by means of traditional teaching methods. These include:
In order to be effective training has to be sensitive and meaningful to Mbendjele culture. In Mbendjele life it makes little sense to give the type of theoretical instructions a Westerner may be used to. When you find yourself in the forest in proximity of a Gorilla you will need to know what a Gorilla’s warning bark, or a charging Gorilla sounds like in order to take appropriate action. The theoretical instruction issued by Western experts: ‘avoid eye contact and adopt a submissive pose’ do not prepare you to what the warning bark of a gorilla or a charging gorilla sounds and feels like. These ‘sound signatures’ being taught through re-enactments of actual encounters with Gorillas educate listeners. All knowledge is transmitted context specific.
Sick people move in certain ways, have certain expressions and make certain sounds. A person with a severe headache has a certain ‘headache face’. In our training we capitalize on key observations, sounds, classic postures or movements that can be commonly observed in people suffering from the illnesses we aim to address. In this training we employ all of the traditional teaching and learning methods present in Mbendjele life.