M-GANGAArchiving African Tradition Medicine Knowledge Using Mobile Phones.BACK GROUNDIn an effort to meet the United Nation’s (UN) Millenium Development Goals (MDG), the World HealthOrganisation (WHO) recognized the pivotal role played by traditional medicine (TM) as an alternative orcomplimentary source of health care provision in Africa [WHO,2008].Research indicates that has been successful in curing two of the killer diseases in Africa: malaria and TBas well as in the management of HIV and AIDs by combating some of its opportunistic diseases[IDRC,2001; Daniels, 2007]. This shows that with better management, this knowledge holds the hopefor universal health care in Africa.WHO defines traditional medicine as “the sum total of knowledge, skills and practices based on thetheories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures that are used to maintain health, aswell as to prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illnesses.” [IDRC, 2001; WHO, 2008].Traditional Medicine is a practice that is ingrained in many Africa cultures with up to 80% of thepopulation said to have consulted traditional medicine. It is an art that is passed down from onegeneration to another through apprenticeship and oral tradition. TM heavily relies on an in-depthunderstanding of local plants and herbs and their medicinal value [IDRC, 2001; CA, 2004].The nature and practice of traditional medicine poses a threat to its sustainability. Because it is passeddown mostly orally from one generation to another there is a danger of it getting lost as many youngpeople, are taking up mainstream career choices meaning that when the elders who are the custodiansof the art die, they die with the knowledge. Further, the increased degradation of the environment aswell as urbanization may lead to the diminishing and in some cases the extinction of medicinal plants[CA, 2004].Hence, there is need to preserve whatever is remaining of the knowledge and medicinal plants.THE SYSTEMWe propose a mobile phone based system that will record, catalogue and Map-out traditional medicineand knowledge for both archival purpose as well as way of passing the knowledge to the nextgeneration. The system that we name M-Ganga (Mobile-Healer) is a two part system that will include: a. The Apprentice: A web-based application that will ‘apprentice’ TH during various healing sessions, recording both audio and video. This will a collaboratively authored database on how to handle various ailments as expected traditionally. The searchable catalogue will act as a repository for persons interested in traditional medicine.
b. The Biodiversity Map: A web-based mapping of various medicinal plant that will show where they are available, how they should be prepared for healing purposed, and whether they are endangered or not. METHODOLOGYStage Methodology Techniques ReasonBaseline Study Ethnographic Study Observation Understand user needs Interviews Double check user needsSystem Design User Centered Design Iterative Prototyping Represent user needs in systemEvaluation Field Trial Observation Test the system REFERENCES 1. CA, (2004). Overview on Medicinal Plants and Traditional Medicine in Africa. Retrieved from: http://www.conserveafrica.org.uk/medicinal_plants.pdf 2. Daniels, Ugo (2007). Traditional Medicine In Africa: A Viewpoint in AfricanLoft. Retrieved from: http://www.africanloft.com/traditional-medicine-in-africa-a-viewpoint/ 3. IDRC, (2001). Traditional Medicine in Africa. A backgrounder by IDRC’s in the launch of 2001- 2010 Decade for African Traditional Medicine launched by the Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Retrieved from: http://archive.idrc.ca/media/commplants_e2.html#Backgrounder 4. WHO, (2008). Traditional Medicine. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs134/en/