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Use of information and communication technologies (icts) to support diffusion of traditional medicine across european and asian countries: the greek perspective

Koumpouros Yiannis

Background: Traditional Medicine remains widespread in developing countries, while use of complementary and alternative medicine is increasing rapidly in developed countries. Nowadays, there is an explosion of various forms of traditional healing that seem to meet an increasing favour on the part of the population in Europe. In Greece, there is little information gathered around traditional medicine, and is mostly related to herbs. Aim: The research aimed at developing a Virtual Platform and a Thematic Network to facilitate share and exchange of information using the new opportunities offered by the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in order to carry out historical-ethnographic study on traditional medicine in the Euro-Asian countries. The current paper focuses on the Greek findings. Method and Material: The research conducted in Greece, Italy, Nepal, Thailand, India and Philippines. Target groups include primarily the general population, elderly and young people, men and women, traditional healers and Primary Health Care doctors. Activities include a number of surveys and quali/quantitative investigations at community level on population beliefs of the causes of the most common illnesses/symptoms and on their choices of popular remedies to improve their conditions. Results: The paper presents the Greek findings, after a 2.5 years study, on traditional medicine using the developed Virtual Platform and Thematic Network as well as the usefulness of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the specific sector and for the specific target groups. Five main symptoms were examined (spontaneous abortion, fever, diarrhea, headache and joint pains) and the respondents’ answers (traditional healers, primary health care doctors and general population) are analyzed. Conclusions: In conclusion, TM exists in regional Greece without being documented properly and gradually vanishes. Thus, more efforts are needed to preserve the heritage of TM in Greece. The ICTs proved to play a key role in the success of the dissemination of the acquired knowledge between all interesting parties.