The Natural and Traditional Medicine (MNT, Cuban acronym) is the oldest known form of healing. Beyond the belief that there were deities with healing power, from the very beginning of the humanity, people have resorted to the plants, sea water, and to many other resources of nature to heal the ailments.

It may be the most popular practiced medicine in Asia. The therapies of acupuncture, therapeutic exercises such as Tai chi, Wu Shu and Yoga, as well as the macrobiotic diets, have transcended space and time, and today are practiced throughout the world.

However, and in view of the rapid development of science, natural medicine is seen mostly as an alternative, that is, as a second option of healing, when life has demonstrated its effectiveness in the treatment of various ailments.

In an attempt to equate the MNT with the rest of the medical specialties, in 1978 was issued the Declaration of Alma Ata, in which made an important call to incorporate alternative medicines and traditional therapies, with scientifically proven effectiveness, to the National Health Systems.

At that time, in Cuba some specialists already applied and socialize this type of proceeding, which was gaining ground with the creation of the Acupuncture Section of the Cuban Society of Anesthesiology, Pain Clinics, Cuban Society of Hypnosis, the Homeopathy Group Juan Antiga, and the celebration of the 18th World Congress of Natural Medicine.

However, it was not until 1991, when the Ministry of Public Health implemented a guideline plan to spread on large scale and in the short term the green medicine in the National Health System; that the MNT began to add patients and practitioners.

Today, there is not a single Cuban who, in the face of an episode of cold, has not resorted to a syrup of oregano, or honey with propolis, and not only as self-medication, but also as a doctor´s prescription. And it is that the different modalities of natural traditional medicine practiced in Cuba are part of the National Drug Program and from two years ago is recognized as a medical specialty, inclusive and holistic of health problems.

Sharing our experience with the world

That was precisely the objective of the 1st International Symposium of Natural Traditional Medicine, which met in Camagüey province at the end of the month of October. In the words of one of its organizers, MsC. Lázaro Infante Quílez, "more than the magisterial conferences, the event stood out because of the possibility that gave us to socialize our knowledge and research with those who bet by the Natural Traditional Medicine, but have not found a sectorial or government support for its comprehensive development".

To this city came specialists, practitioners and students from Mexico, Spain, and the Cuban provinces of Holguin, Pinar del Rio and Havana, to exchange experiences in the application of this branch of medicine in all existing modalities in Camagüey, among them, the ozone therapy, the traditional exercises and Guidance and Naturalistic Psychology.

In addition, our province is one of the provinces-bearers in the evolution of the MNT, because since 1999 along with Holguín, got into the training of specialists in this discipline, not only through the study as medical specialty, but also through courses and other postgraduate courses.

"In Cuba, in all the consultations of specialists, MNT is applied, and even, it exists as a specialized consultation by itself. Here in Camagüey," says Infante Quilez- we have it in the three main hospitals in the province: the Military, the Provincial Manuel Ascunce Domenech and the Amalia Simoni.

"In addition, all doctors working in Primary Health Care, have knowledge of the MNT and turn to it, for example, to medicate a patient with a respiratory infection".

The participants´ opinion

That importance attached by Cuba to Natural Medicine, and the widespread use and professional that makes of this branch of medicine, the reason many responded to the call of the 1st International Symposium of Natural Traditional Medicine held in Camagüey; among them, the Mexicans Jorge Alejandro Gordillo Avendaño and Victor Hugo Bocanegra Alegría. One, Professor of the School of Higher Studies in Complementary and Alternative Medicine; and the other, a specialist in the Training Center for Herbal advisers.

Cadena Agramonte talked with them, seeking their views on this space for dialog and exchange of experiences.

"It is very important for us to come to Cuba," said Gordillo Avendaño- “because in these moments in Mexico are taking the first steps to include natural traditional medicine in the Basic Health Care; something in which this country has very good results”.

"It has been so enriching this Symposium, which we will return to Cuba for upcoming meetings and workshops on the subject."

For his part, Victor Hugo Bocanegra, who claims to have been surprised with the integral vision of the medicine in Cuba, "very different to how it is in Mexico", "to participate in this symposium here in Camagüey, besides it is a charming city- together with a group of students from our Center (Training Center for Herbal advisors), has been fundamental to impress on them the importance of subject that we teach them for the health; and that this is not merely an alternative practice; but as valid as the official medicine".

In the dialog, both specialists emphasized on highlight the high esteem in which they feel for the Cuban doctors, and rated of admirable development of natural traditional medicine in our country, which, they said, is an example for the world.

Translated by Linet Acuña Quilez