Ciara Lumaj wins UROP award

Ms. Lumaj's research project will examine Western biomedicine being incorporated into societies with healthcare systems that were once based on indigenous systems. It is important to investigate and observe how and why these societies are adapting the different systems through a holistic viewpoint.

The purpose of this research is to investigate medical pluralism in Ecuador, that is, the combination of various medical systems and practices: Spanish folk, Amazonian, Andean, herbal, shamanic, and others along with biomedical. This includes understanding practitioners’ attitudes toward one another and the communication between the systems, government policies toward different medical practices, the role of religion in interpreting and treating illness, how the indigenous cultures are reacting to biomedical doctors, how patients make decisions about what kind of treatments to seek, and how pharmacies and street market vendors sell biomedical and alternative remedies.

Understanding the combination of systems and the underlying factors gives a holistic viewpoint that will ultimately lead to an effective complementation of the traditional practices and modern practices that can be used in Western societies. 

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