A public hospital in Adelaide is tapping into 60,000 years of traditional medicine from Aboriginal healers — also known as Ngangkari — to help treat Indigenous patients.

Key points:

  • The traditional practice uses touch, breath and bush medicine to heal a person’s spirit
  • The program couples traditional Aboriginal treatment with Western medicine
  • A health expert says doctors have been pushing for Ngangkari to work with them

Under the program, the traditional healers will work alongside doctors and nurses to provide what Lyell McEwin Hospital staff have described as a “complementary” treatment to medical care.

Aboriginal woman and cancer survivor Roslyn Weetra, 70, said the program was a step in the right direction for Aboriginal people.

In 2002, the Narungga Country woman was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and sought Ngangkari treatment from her brother-in-law, Brenton Weetra, a Ngangkari from Port Augusta.

“It gave me a strength that I didn’t know I had to fight the disease — the cancer — alongside the medical treatment,” she said.

Ms Weetra completed six rounds of chemotherapy. But a year later, the cancer returned and was more aggressive.

She underwent intense chemotherapy and radiation and, at one stage, was admitted to the intensive care unit.

She said she again called on the Ngangkari to assist with her spiritual healing.

“The Aboriginal healing helps you, gives you the strength, to mend you on the inside while you’re going through the chemo treatment and the radiotherapy,” she said.

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