The Treatment of Malaria Using Unconventional Medicine
Many communities across Papua New Guinea are family and tradition oriented. Their beliefs are centered on their family (Cultural Atlas,2018) and traditions. Most issues are always discussed within the family and communities to find possible solutions (Cultural Atlas,2018). Sometimes they seek advices within their community neighbors before they do anything by themselves. So in terms of medical related situations, they pursue their own preference of health treatment of their choice or sometimes by seeking help from within the community (Gesch cited in Papapu,2018). But their knowledge is only limited to the diseases that are common in the country or community level. The most common diseases in the country according to WHO (n.d) are the communicable diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, tuberculosis, diarrheal diseases, meningitis. Therefore, there are several ways in which they can choose to help seek relief from these common diseases (Gesch cited in Papapu, 2018).

Malaria is one of the most well-known diseases in the country and most people in the communities are able to easily identify it from its symptoms without having go to any facilities. They may have other explanations for the cause and also the method of curing it may vary but all in all they are more focused on getting rid of the disease before it is spread throughout the whole family or the entire community. And more importantly they want be rid of the disease and be well physically, mentally and socially (Papapu, 2018). People identify malaria from symptoms such as headaches, mild fevers, loss of appetite, and fatigue. The headaches and fevers start of as mildly until the temperatures hit the roof. When they cannot lower temperatures they identify the disease as malaria, then they go on to seek out the appropriate level of treatment that is affordable and suitable for them.
Treatment seeking preferences depend on a few conditions and behaviors of the patients. In Papua New Guinea, most people both living in urban and rural areas always prefer traditional method of treatment before going to any formal health care facilities (Davy et al.,2010). For malaria, treatment may vary in different locations and communities across the country. In rural areas, the inhabitants use a wide range of plants based on the influences of their ancestors and their traditional beliefs. Also due to a lack of health care service delivery even though the majority of the country’s population lives there (Marsland,2017). But in urban areas, especially in Port Moresby, the most common choice would be the use of neem tree leaves and seeds as a treatment for malaria.
The neem tree grows very well in dry lowland areas which makes sunny Port Moresby a very ideal habitat (Badi,2014). Unfortunately, other flora and fauna are not able to survive there due to the dry season experienced all year round (National Agricultural Research Institute, 2002). Handicapped by this situation, the city dwellers are more likely to find whatever available treatment they could find. Although there are health facilities nearby, the residents would still choose remedies that will bring the quick relief they need. Because going to a health facility would mean standing in a very long que all day and not receiving much service at the end of the day due to insufficient staff (Gesch cited in Papapu,2018). This makes the neem tree a vital choice for them. Fundamentally the neem trees grow around the city and that makes it easier, faster and at no cost at all for them to use. However, the method of treatment differs from one area to another. The most popular method of treatment of neem tree leaves can be eaten raw or be boiled with water and consumed like tea. The neem tree tea is one of the many method of treatments of malaria in many communities across Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guineans care deeply for one another in their communities. They usually greet each other when they walk past each other on the road (Cultural Atlas,2018). So if someone is sick and was cured using neem tree tea then he or she usually share that experience with any community members on the road or when visited by neighbors. And the former patient goes on to tell them that it does work even though the tea is very bitter when consumed. But the outcome is very quick and desirable. Then this experience is passed around in the community. When anyone has a fever they would refer to this experience that was passed around. Because when people search for help they depend on the confidence, familiarity, warmth generosity and experience of the people around them (Papapu,2018). Papapu (2018) stated that today it has become a norm for people across the society to accept advice and help from others because of their experience in the society.

In this way, the cycle of advice-giving and experience-sharing continues, with more people using this type of treatment, many experiences are drawn from those situations. And so the community members would say this type of treatment does work and it did work on us. In response many might be able to be cured which may lower the rate of malaria and high fevers substantially in the communities. But the responses in the communities may be different from one family to another. The advice given might be interpreted differently from one individual to another depending on their experience from using different levels of health care.

In conclusion, there are many ways of getting the relief from diseases. Pursuing the right type of treatment may depend on an individual’s point of view, economic status, traditional beliefs, body conditions (allergies) and limitations to medical facilities. For some people, they are innovative and adventurous enough to try new ideas while others are timid and are reserved to their personal experiences therefore curing a simple disease like malaria may be a struggle and so leaves them with the choice of seeking professional help from a health worker and paying a visit to the nearest health facility.

Badi.D. (2014). Port Moresby’s Naturalized and Exotic Wonder. Retrieved 24, August, 2018, from
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