West Papua: From Local Tribes’ Traditional Curing to Modern Health Development

Healthy Development

With many growths from several sectors in West Papua, the health section has also become one that is experiencing healthy development. Besides the great nature west Papua has, this island also houses many plants with extraordinary efficacies. Local tribes have long used the natural resources around them for health purposes.

The use and process of those medicinal plants are also carried out in a simple way. Locals boil or heat those plants without a precise dose. The parts commonly used are roots, stems, bark, leaves, fruit, tubers, sap, and seeds.

Years ago, when hospitals were something that hard to reach and the medicinal plants couldn’t do any good, locals indubitably faced death. However, things have changed now, thanks to West Papua’s growth. Health facilities have undergone significant healthy development.

Even with easier access to the medical building, traditional curing can still be a mainstay. To learn more about local tribes’ traditional curing and today’s modern health, let’s take a short journey.


  1. Pinang Muda/Betel Nuts

Healthy Development

Papuan believes that Pinang Muda carries so many advantages, and eating this betel nut is a sign of love for Papua. Some of the benefits they offer are overcoming itching due to fungi, remitting bad odors, and giving more stamina. Locals even claim they have their own traditional “candy” made from areca, betel, and lime.

Three of them are so closely related to the life of the Papuan people. This “candy” is used as desserts that carry a lot of benefits. Apart from being a sweet dessert, this “candy” mostly accompany locals as they’re having a chatty time with family and enjoying the warmth of those entertaining moment.


  1. Sambiloto

Healthy Development

In 2011, the number of death caused by Malaria was recorded at 388 cases, and most of those cases number occurred in Papua. The 10.6 percent was in West Papua, 10.1 percent happened in Papua, and 4.4 percent occurred in East Nusa Tenggara. Locals used sambiloto to cure this disease. The active substances in sambiloto—flavonids and lactones—play as an active substance that will increase immunity and prevent Malaria.

Back then, when health facilities were something fancy, sambiloto is preferred as traditional curing. Locals use this as medication by simply boiling the sambiloto leaf and adding it with honey to reduce the bitter taste. The use of sambiloto is still preserved up till now.


  1. Sampare Leaf

Healthy Development

Also known as Glochidion sp., a family of Phyllantaceae, sampare leaves grow lots in Papua. Local tribes make use of these leaves as herbal medicine. Papuan ancestors have conserved this traditional curing from generation to generation for years. Local tribes used them to heal fever and Malaria.

Unfortunately, young people nowadays are no longer understood deeply about this traditional curing. Since potential folk healing in West Papua is many, it is very unfortunate if they do not understand the local treatment of their tribe. Oldest people who are over sixty are the ones that can give a clear explanation about West Papua’s medicinal plants.


  1. West Papua’s Hospitals

Healthy Development

With West Papua’s healthy development in infrastructure, local tribes now can lean on modern medication if their traditional curing doesn’t seem to show any good sign for the sick person. West Papua owns several hospitals, such as Pertamina Sorong hospital, TNI AL hospital, RSUD Manokwari, also RSUD Kaimana.

One of the best hospitals in West Papua is RSUD Teluk Bintuni. This facility boasts its active CT scan that is worth for IDR 3.6 billion. Located in the Bintuni coast, the largest district in West Papua, the road terrain to get there is quite difficult. Patients who are treated in RSUD Teluk Bintuni suffer diseases that are not much different from the patient in big cities.


  1. Puskesmas (Health Center)

Healthy Development

Several health centers are present in west Papua, becoming evidence of healthy development of health facilities. Using both modern and traditional curing, these health centers socialize the importance of applying traditional ingredients as a treatment.

These Puskemas know that local tribes’ traditional curing must be preserved. From ten local ethnics groups in seven districts in West Papua province, there is as much as nine hundred information on medicinal plants from 49 traditional healers. Those ten local ethnics of West Papua are Waigeo, Aifat, Aitinyo, Tehit, Ayamaru, Inanwatan, Sough, Meyah, Wamesa, and Wandamen.

We can see the richness of the medical healing through a book titled “Eksplorasi Pengetahuan Lokal Etnomedisin dan Tumbuhan Obat Berbasis Komunitas di Indonesia (Provinsi Papua Barat)” or “Exploration of Ethnomedicine’s Local Knowledge and Community-Based Medicinal Plants in Indonesia (West Papua Province)”.

Even with healthy development for health facility sectors, it is essential to learn and apply traditional curing. Using traditional medicine is somewhat safer for our bodies. Compared to chemical medicines, natural substances will not give bad effects in the future.