Bali Governor Wayan Koster has called on the medical industry to integrate the use of traditional medicine into hospital services. The original leaders held a conference with Gotra Pangusada, the Balinese Traditional Healers Association, on Sunday, 25th of September.
The request comes as part of a bigger move to further develop the medical facilities in Bali. While infrastructural developments in the medical sector will first and foremost benefit Indonesian citizens, there is also a move to promote medical tourism in Bali.
Governor Koster addressed the members of Gotra Pangusada in Denpasar. He requested that the association look into integrating traditional Balinese medicinal practices into local health centers, clinics, and private and public hospitals.
This is to both preserve traditional Balinese medicine and, in many ways, offer more holistic, natural, and affordable healthcare. He was clear that traditional practices should be integrated with ‘western’ medicine to provide a comprehensive healthcare offering.
He explained, ‘With a note, the practice of traditional health services should not be carried out carelessly, but there must be a code of ethics by standardizing and testing its competence’. After passing the test, a certificate can be issued for the legality of the practice.
He stated that integrated traditional health practices should adhere to the Usada manuscript. Usada means traditional medicine or medical science in Balinese. Balian Usada is a traditional herbalist or traditional medicine practitioner. Governor Koster said, ‘Based on research and information contained in various manuscripts, it is stated that Balinese people have [knowledge], evidenced by the expertise in traditional medicine’.
In terms of an approach, Governor Koster requested that members of Gotra Pangusada work in collaboration with academics and others in the medical industry to conduct data collection, research, and develop a plan for the new venture.
He made specific reference to documenting the plants used in traditional medicine. While many such plant medicines are documented in the usada manuscripts, many are not. Governor Koster wants to ensure that traditional medicine and local wisdom is properly documented so that nothing is lost, especially since so much wisdom is preserved and taught orally.
According to Governor Koster, there are over 3,000 plants that can be used in traditional Balinese medicine. He explained that he wants this knowledge to be taught to local communities who have become disconnected from this aspect of their heritage. He believed that when armed with this knowledge, communities can find an opportunity to support their livelihoods through growing, foraging, and cultivating these plants.
True to form, Governor Koster has an ambitious vision for this project. He shared his belief that Bali should be able to compete with China on the international market as a world-class provider of traditional medicine and medicinal herbs. He shared his hopes that, with time, the project would enable Bali to become more independent and not rely solely on medications developed elsewhere.
Governor Koster explained that other traditional Balinese products are thriving on the international market and that the same model can be adapted to promote traditional Balinese medicine. He said, ‘I will continue to encourage this potential to become a pride and economic strength, such as the Balinese Arak and Balinese traditional salt which have entered the traditional market, modern market, export market, and even bought by restaurants and hotels in Bali’.
While the project focuses on supporting Indonesian citizens first and foremost, Koster’s plan will undoubtedly appeal to hundreds of thousands of international citizens who are desperately seeking medical care that sits outside of the current western or corporate medical framework. Ubud, for example, is already incredibly popular with international visitors seeking a more holistic approach to healing and wellbeing.
Bali’s Sanglah Hospital is currently constructing a specialized department focusing on aesthetic, wellness, and anti-aging treatments. The new purpose-built department focuses on providing cosmetic surgery and non-surgical treatments specifically for the Australian market.
Bali is already a leading destination for dental tourism. Every year thousands of Australians and New Zealanders, in particular, head to the island for exceptionally high-quality and affordable dental care.
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