Friday, May 15, 2009


Eni said:
When I was a child, I used to see my elder sister (Ida) scraped turmeric planted in our house backyard. The scraped turmeric was for my mother to drink every time she had gastric problem. Even though my mother is not a medical expert, she knew it from the knowledge inherited by her ancestors. I, at that time, did not know that turmeric can heal gastric problem. But the more I read, the more I know that it is indeed a scientifically proved medicine for gastric problem and other health problems. It can even confine the growth rate of certain cancer.

Ida said:
When I was 6 years old, as the eldest child in the family, I had to take over some responsibilities when my mother was sick. It included hard effort to recover my mother from her gastric problems and anemia. Every morning I used to scrape turmeric. Then the scraped turmeric was mixed with warm water and salt, then filtered. My mother used to drink it before going teaching. I, consequently, used to go to school with my palms yellow coloured because of the turmeric I used to squash everyday. I also used the scrapep turmeric and put it to animals (such as bird, cats, chicken, etc) that got hurt. They all recovered, and I felt I believe that turmeric was indeed a medicine.

Ibu Budiyem (a farmer in desa nglipar, wonosari, yogyakarta) said:
I have been planting these turmerics since 3 years ago. I remember, at that time my son, Beni, was going into his 9th grade a.k.a third class of Juniour High School. The price of the turmerics now is Rp. 400 (US$ 0.04). All my harvest today will gain me Rp. 4000 (US$ 0.40) at the utmost. Yeah it's about 10 kg turmeric. It is indeed uncomparable with the series of hard work of planting, looking after, and harvesting it.

As you can see, we have sit here for hours cleaning the harvested turmerics from the soil. No other choice, we do anything we can to make money. Beni needs a lot of money to go on tour to Bali (Rp. 800.000,-) with his school friends, for his motorbike fuels, his cell phone credits, etc. This turmeric is used for making Jamu (traditional concoction to keep you healthy). We don't make it because it is expensive for us to make. It needs other ingredients to make it such as tamarind, other herbals, and sugar. The price of sugar now is about Rp. 9000,- make it so expensive for us to make jamu.

Tuti (Second grade in Juniour High School, child of Ibu Budiyem, Who helps her mother harvesting turmeric) said:
I don't know the price of this turmeric. Ah, maybe it's just nothing (then she yelled asking the price to her mom). This turmeric is used to make Jamu- a traditional concoction- to make our body healthy. But I seldom drink it because not many people sell it.

The Authors:
They will keep planting the turmeric because it can grow easily in Indonesia and also because it is one of kitchen seasoning used across the archipelago. Maybe one day, their turmeric will be appreciated with deserving price. Hopefully, when that happen, the turmeric has not been patented by any parties. Or maybe it has?

By: Ida dan Eni, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, May 10th, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Traditional Healing Practices--Status: Endangered. (Part 1)

In some places in Indonesia, especially in rural areas, traditional concoction a.k.a Jamu (usually tonic made of medicinal plants) has become a part of daily consumption to keep people healthy.

A professional is making the concoction ( we call her “MBAH” -- a common call for old women and men in JAVA, literary meaning grandmother or grandfather). I Wonder will there be 'next professional seller'?!

These photos represent portrait of how Indonesia rich in traditional wisdom regarding health systems, which have a long historical background inherited from their ancestors' experiences and became a part of daily life. The woman is selling traditional concoction in a traditional market in Yogyakarta. The ingredient of her concoction are from herbals believed to be able to keep people healthy. The processing is also done traditionally, not using any machine. She scrapes turmerics, crushes herbals, and squashing them with her hands. Buyer can either drink the concoction directly there from a glass made of coconut shell (see pic on your left) or bring it home packaged in a plastic see pic on your right). The price for one portion is 2000 rupiah (US$ 0,2).

From our observation, nowadays people selling the traditional concoction are mostly aged women. There has been also a decline in number of traditional concoction sellers, who usually walk around our village. Perhaps, there are not many people who want to consume such concoction because they now believe more in modern medicines and supplements they see on TV.

The bitter consequence lurks behind this reality is since on the other hand, many more people are not able to reach the so called sophisticated health innovation, therefore, the disappearance of traditional healing methods and practices apparently can make many people who cannot afford the so-called modern innovation become more vulnerable.

We think, is traditional knowledge to keep us healthy going to extinct along with the decreasing appreciation from us? What and how great the loss are we going to face then?

More Photos:\

“Maknyusss!” meaning very-very-very tastefull. She regularly drink jamu made by this “MBAH” every morning except sunday.


The herbals..!What are they? I can spot turmeric. What else? I will ask the seller later.


What I drink in this pic is called Kunir Asem. I like the taste and the smell. It is sour and sweet and fresh. There is also a soda sensation. Can you imagine then? After drinking this, usually we drink some sugary-water.

By: Ida and Eni, Yogyakarta, May 09th, 2009.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Silent Danger Lurks in Water

This is a shortlisted essay at the International Essay Competition 2008 held by Global Health Forum. Published in "Young Voices for Health 2008" bulletin. LANCET publication.

French language essay authors and Ida Ansharyani featured in Paris colloquium at Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie. From left to right: Marame Ndour (Sénégal), Claire Élise Burdet (Canada), Ida Ansharyani (Indonesia), Susan Jupp (Global Health Forum), Raquel Bertoldo(Brazil). This photo and their essay are published at:

There is growing evidence that climate change will significantly impact on the rural populations of developing and poor countries. Rural people, who represent the majority of inhabitants in developing countries and whose livelihoods depend upon natural resources, such as water, will be affected by changes in rainfall patterns and greater weather extremes. This will put pressure on already scarce resources and affect all aspects of their lives, including their state of health.

To fulfill their daily water needs, such as for drinking, cooking and sanitation, rural people use water from various sources. Commonly they use water from wells, rivers and springs. In more remote areas, rural people depend on rain harvesting. In many places clean water is very limited. In the dry season, many people face particular difficulties in obtaining fresh water and are often forced to walk for hours to find it. River water is dwindling. The number of wells is limited and they are usually located quite far from settlements. In particular areas, due to climatic and geological conditions, water resources are indeed rare (for example, in arid or temperate regions and limestone karst1 areas). In more developed villages pump water is provided, however, not all people can afford to access this supply.

Besides problems of quantity, water quality is a common issue in villages. Even if there are abundant water resources, poor water quality means these resources are often unsuitable for human use. It is frequently found that a river has abundant water all year round, but unfortunately the water is impure and reddish in colour, especially in the rainy season. In some places with certain geological conditions, the water contains harmful substances in high concentrations (e.g. carbonate and acid). Sometimes pump water is also unclean, especially in the rainy season. This means people who have access to pump water must look to other sources, such as spring water and wells, for clean water.

Water problems are a real threat to rural people’s health. Health problems caused by poor water quality and lack of access to sufficient supplies are exacerbated by limited access to health facilities. Many villages are isolated because of poor road infrastructure. This means people have to walk for hours to reach the nearest health facility and this also prevents health officers from visiting communities on a regular basis. The facilities themselves are very limited and often inadequately staffed. The health facility in many villages is only staffed by nurses with no access to a qualified doctor. Professionally trained midwives to help mothers give birth are often not provided, so it is not surprising that mother and infant mortality is high in village communities. The perception and habits of people in rural communities can also cause health problems. Many people in rural areas believe that all diseases can be overcome with pills or vaccinations from health officers. The health officers providing medicine and vaccinations, however, are often unqualified to do so. Many villagers are also in the habit of drinking non-boiled water and often suffer from gastroenteritis and skin diseases.

Climate change is threatening the health security of villagers. Droughts occur on a vast scale, river water dwindles and in some places there is no water. While at the same time, people use water to take baths, wash and engage in other sanitation activities. This degrades the water quality through pollution from bacteria and contamination by various substances in high concentrations. One dire impact of contaminated water on people is exceptional diarrhoea. People in villages tend to suffer from similar complaints, such as kidney problems, due to high carbonate or rotten teeth because of acid in their water. Dirty water also causes infections and is one of the major factors contributing to mother and infant mortality in villages. The increasing frequency of flooding has caused water sources to become turbid, however, people continue using the water because they have no other choice. Such conditions directly threaten people’s health security. In addition, natural resources are becoming scarce, with some rural populations in developing countries struggling to survive with very limited resources. Such conditions can contribute to malnutrition.

Climate change not only affects physical health, but also creates psychological pressure on villagers. Many become stressed because they don’t know what has happened or why big changes occur in their daily lives. For example, many farmers plant their seeds according to the regular planting season. They become confused when rainfall becomes unseasonably scarce or too heavy causing flooding that destroys the seeds they have planted. Unpredictable, extreme weather threatens food security in several ways; paddy fields cannot be cultivated, seeds cannot grow optimally or harvests fail. Farmers suffer considerable loss both in materials and energy. This puts more pressure on them, as the cost of their daily basic needs increase. In some places, this pressure has pushed farmers to deadlock in fulfilling their basic needs. This condition is very stressful and can lead to many health problems.

Further research into the health implications of water resources on developing communities, such as whether drinking water is safe, is urgently needed. Such research needs to be done in many places periodically and intensively because climate change has altered water resource systems across the globe. Mindful of the considerable limitations in terms of human resources and funding to conduct such research in many places, we need to find a method that enables local people to monitor the quality of their local water supply. Any monitoring system needs to be simple and user-friendly, and should be explained in laymen’s terms so that local people can easily understand it. Water quality monitoring could be included in school subjects and extra-curricular activities so that rural school children are able to continuously monitor their everyday drinking water. Equipped with this knowledge, they could immediately detect any drastic changes to water quality before people are negatively affected.

At the same time there is a transfer of skills to monitor water quality, and rural communities need to be supplied with information about climate change and its threat to water resources, as well as impacts on their health. This matter becomes vital because health services and facilities are very minimal in developing and poor countries. Thus rural society ought to be provided with both the knowledge and the tools to enable them to protect one of the most important and basic elements of living – clean and non-harmful fresh water.

Research into the psychological impacts of climate change and its influence on the health of rural societies in developing countries is also required. The results could be fed into developing health services in rural areas. It is also important to raise awareness among rural health officers of the effects of climate change on health.

Local health officers are often related to or know the people they treat within their community. It is therefore vital that they are key stakeholders in the monitoring of water sources before climate change generates even worse impacts on their local communities. It is important to provide mental health clinics or services that can contribute to psychological healing for communities affected by climate change. Implicit in this healing process is the provision of correct information about the impact of climate change on their lives so they are empowered to find creative solutions to their problems.
1 Karsts are areas of irregular limestone where erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams and caverns.
By: Ida Ansharyani

This essay can be found at:,%20Indonesia.pdf