Alban South America


Background Information

The principal specialties of traditional medicine practitioners are coca qawiri, midwifery, aysiri, materos, qulliri, milluris, qaquidores, paqos, layqiri, and rezadores.


In Bolivia, where 50.5% of the population is indigenous, the proportion of the population with access to allopathic medicine ranges from 11% to 70%. depending on the region. There is a strong preference for traditional medicine. In southern Cochabamba, over 55% of the population prefer to use traditional medicine.

There are an estimated 5000 practicing traditional health providers. There are practicing chiropractors.

Regulatory Situation

In 1985, the practice of traditional medicine was legally recognized. Laws governing traditional medicine in Bolivia include Traditional Medicine Practice Regulation 198771-1984, Resolución Suprema 198771-84, and Personería Juridica de la Sociedad Boliviana de Medicina Tradicional. In order to practice traditional medicine in Bolivia, it is necessary to have an official licence granted by the Ministry of Human Development. However, only an estimated 500 traditional medicine practitioners have this permit. Revalidation of one’s Doctor of Chiropractic degree is required to practice chiropractic.

The National Division of Maternal and Child Health was established in 1982 with regulations on the conduct of family health activities. This division is authorized to regulate traditional birth attendants.

There is no official program linking traditional medicine with allopathic medicine. There is no formal registry of traditional medicine practitioners.

In 1982, the Ministry of Health established regulations on herbal medicines, and as of January 2001, all homeopathic medicines must be registered.

Education and Training

In 1982, the Ministry of Health set up a training program for traditional practitioners at allopathic medical schools. KUSKA (a civil organization devoted to multi-disciplinary research in health, education, agriculture, ecology, and eco-tourism) has two schools of traditional medicine: INKARI in Cochabamba and the Kallawaya Institute in La Paz. At these schools, experienced traditional health practitioners offer seminars, workshops, lectures, meetings, and trimester courses, as well as opportunities for students to observe and practice consultations and treatments.

Formal courses, workshops, and seminars in traditional medicine are also available through the official health sector. Workshops, principally sponsored by the Catholic Church, are offered for nurses and health promoters. Traditional medical knowledge may also be acquired through personal revelations and inspiration. In Rahay Pampa, traditional medicine is frequently taught to successive generations within a family.