chapter  3
22 Pages

The Plural Medical System and Women’s Health in Pakistan: What the Health Statistics Do Not Reveal

WithAnne T. Sweetser

This chapter explores two subjects: the plural medical system and the particular health problems women face in Pakistani society. It describes the practice of biomedicine, discusses the main alternatives, Yunani Tibb and religious healing, and focuses on the nature of choices individuals or families make when seeking care. Within the biomedical system, services are available at many levels from different types of institutions. In rural areas biomedical care is often most readily available through private sources, starting with shopkeepers who stock a few aspirin tablets. Yunani Tibb, or Islami-Tibb, is Galenic medicine, itself a revision of the system of Hippocrates and Aristotle, augmented and resystematized by Muslim scholars. Yunani Tibb is a holistic medical system that recognizes innate and environmental, congenital and acquired, organic and functional, and physical and emotional dimensions. A variety of forms of practice are encountered under the rubric of religious healing: reliance upon prayer; prophetic medicine; and numerous types of popular practice.