Mapuche drugs in a contemporary hospital

Chilean Cultural Hyperlinks Assist Medical Employees Incorporate Indigenous Care Practices

Lucía Hernández Rumian, who gave delivery to her first baby final month, danced in her hospital room whereas her husband performed the kultrun, a ritual drum.

He refused painkillers from the hospital employees to obtain massages and oil massages as an alternative of his cultural hyperlink, who had ceremonially purified the house based on Mapuche customs. “It turned my very own house,” Hernandez mentioned.

The biggest public hospital within the metropolis of Osorno, in southern Chile, is discovering new methods to include these and different indigenous well being care practices. There’s a particular supply room with indigenous photos on the partitions and mattress, types for docs to approve natural therapies from trusted conventional healers, and protocols for a “good loss of life” aware of non secular beliefs.

Mapuche drugs in a contemporary hospital 1

Picture: AP

The hospital’s efforts validate cultural practices at a time when Chile’s indigenous teams, notably its largest, the Mapuche, are combating for rights and restitution with unprecedented visibility because the nation prepares to vote on a brand new structure subsequent month. .

However additionally they restore an important non secular element in well being care, based on well being professionals and sufferers at Hospital Base San José de Osorno.

“It needs to be a assure, we maintain the bodily half, however with out transgressing the non secular dimension,” mentioned Cristina Muñoz, the licensed nurse midwife who launched new supply protocols that pregnant indigenous girls can customise and are believed to be the most effective . first within the nation.

Mapuche drugs in a contemporary hospital 2

Picture: AP


Cristina Aron, the affected person who first impressed Muñoz greater than a decade in the past, has now grow to be a cultural hyperlink for Hernández and two dozen different girls from being pregnant to early motherhood.

“Childbirth is a non secular vitality occasion for the mom, the infant and the group,” mentioned Aron.

She hoped to present delivery to her daughter within the countryside with a standard delivery attendant. However Chilean legislation requires skilled well being employees to attend births attributable to excessive maternal mortality up to now.

So Aron went to the hospital in Osorno and negotiated the phrases of the supply with Muñoz, which included being accompanied by a lady versed in Mapuche practices and taking her placenta for ceremonial burial on her ancestral lands.

The Mapuche see the placenta as a twin spirit of the kid. Their burial, typically with a tree planted on high to develop because the new child does, is believed to create a lifelong connection between the youngsters and the pure parts of their household’s territory.

“It’s totally poetic and really revolutionary,” mentioned Alen Colipan, whose son had his placenta positioned by a river close to his paternal grandmother’s home.

“He won’t really feel this uprooting from his land.” Colipan was 17 years outdated when she gave delivery in Osorno’s intercultural supply room, with a floor-to-ceiling photograph on three partitions of the rocky seaside that homes Grandpa Huentellao, a protecting spirit revered by the Mapuche Huilliche, the indigenous group of the area.

Colipan mentioned her then-85-year-old midwife, Irma Rohe, who had by no means been admitted to a hospital, was allowed to obtain the infant “with out gloves and different issues imposed” and ritually clear him.

“We’re as soon as once more wanting to present delivery to folks with ancestral data,” mentioned Colipan. “Even our method of being born was dominated. Now we have to start out releasing him.”


Chilean legislation now requires hospitals to ship the placenta to moms in the event that they request it. For a decade, it has additionally decreed intercultural consideration in locations with a big indigenous inhabitants. The Mapuche make up a 3rd of the inhabitants of Osorno and eight of the ten within the neighboring province of San Juan de la Costa, mentioned Angélica Levican, who has been answerable for indigenous relations on the hospital since 2016.

“Well being care amongst indigenous folks has all the time existed. Then one other system got here alongside to override our personal system,” he mentioned. “Our intention is that they complement one another.”

Uniting each varieties of drugs is just not simple. Many indigenous folks understand public hospitals as yet another state establishment that discriminates towards their beliefs.

Mapuche drugs, based mostly on spirituality, can also be completely different from what docs are skilled to do, mentioned José Quidel Lincoleo, director of a Mapuche well being care examine middle in Temuco, one other southern metropolis with a big indigenous inhabitants. .

Mapuche healers search to attach with the spirit of the affected person to find the “organic, social, psychological and non secular root of the issue” that manifests as sickness, Quidel added.

“It may very well be one other earlier life, or some harm that has been finished to you, or a scarcity of self-knowledge that makes us transgress our worldview,” he mentioned.

However docs and conventional healers say they’ll complement one another’s work by realizing every skilled solely is aware of a fraction of what is doable, particularly when battling new illnesses like COVID-19.

“One understands that saving a physique must be suitable with beliefs,” mentioned Dr. Cristóbal Oyarzun, a rheumatologist and coordinator of inside drugs on the Osorno hospital. “A affected person with inside peace has a greater likelihood of therapeutic.”

That’s tough to realize within the aseptic and remoted setting of a hospital, particularly through the pandemic. Mapuche healers continued to hope and “spiritually accompany” sufferers from afar, mentioned Cristóbal Tremigual Lemui, a healer from San Juan de la Costa who has lengthy collaborated with the Osorno hospital.

“That is important for us … in order that sufferers can get the vitality they want,” he mentioned.

Members of the family additionally flocked to the hospital’s prayer house, an out of doors circle of small sacred bay and cinnamon timber with a bonfire subsequent to the car parking zone, to carry ceremonies for the dying, Levican mentioned.


Inpatients and walk-ins who determine themselves as indigenous — a mean of fifty per day — are greeted and accompanied by Erica Inalef, the hospital’s intercultural facilitator, in order that “they do not really feel so alone.”

When, as a young person, he took his aged father to the hospital, the docs hardly spoke to them and “physique and spirit had been separated”. Docs can now see the passion with which sufferers greet the arrival of conventional healers, and that helps construct mutual belief, Inalef mentioned.

Belief can present itself in an orthopedic surgeon approving a affected person’s lawenko, an natural tea whose precise composition is saved secret by healers, or in an obstetrician permitting a lady in labor to put on her munulongko, a scarf. which is believed to guard her.

Cultural clothes is a piece of the work plan that Muñoz drew up 5 years in the past and that pregnant girls can customise. She hopes extra folks will take discover of this feature: Solely about 20 of the hospital’s 1,500 births every year are cross-cultural births.

“Indigenous girls are doubly shy, discriminated towards for being a lady, indigenous, poor and rural,” Muñoz mentioned. “We inform him, your physique is the primary territory you’ll recuperate.”

Claiming ancestral practices is what led Angela Quintana Aucapan to have her child —Namunkura, or “agency step” in Mapudungun— within the particular supply room not too long ago, whereas kin performed conventional devices.

“I used to be in a position to do it like my ancestors did,” he mentioned. “I felt supported after I acquired my child.”

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