Traditional andean healers in the context of change: the case of Churcampa in Peru


  • Julio Portocarrero Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, Lima, Peru.
  • Helen Palma-Pinedo Direccion General de Epidemiologia. Ministerio de Salud. Lima, Peru.
  • M. Amalia Pesantes Salud Sin Limites. Lima, Peru.
  • Gerardo Seminario Salud Sin Limites. Lima, Peru.
  • Claudia Lema Salud Sin Limites. Lima, Peru. Centro de Excelencia en Enfermedades Cronicas. Lima, Peru.



Medicine, traditional, Ethnography, Shamanism, Peru


Objectives. Describe the diversity of traditional healers, their links with the formal health system and changes in their therapeutic resources in two rural Andean communities in Churcampa, in the region of Huancavelica, Peru. Materials and methods. Qualitative study which combined three ethnographic techniques: in depth interviews, observations and accompaniments to traditional healers and health care personnel. Results. 58 traditional healers, classified as healers, midwives and bonesetters were identified. Most healers interviewed learned their work while young and few had a teacher or mentor. The vast majority have objections to linking with health care facilities beyond referrals. There was no coordinated work among health personnel and traditional healers. However, when it happened, health personnel preferred those healers who have the willingness to adapt to the needs of the health services. We found that most of the healers were changing their practices due to the influence of evangelical churches. No healer had disciples to transmit their knowledge and practices. Conclusions. There is great diversity of traditional healers. This diversity is decreasing, among other factors, by the advance of the evangelical churches. Traditional healers refer some patients to the health facility; while health personnel establish hierarchical working relationships with the healers. It is necessary to work on these attitudes of the health care personnel, since the basis of an intercultural approach is to have coordinated and horizontal working relationships between both systems.


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Original Article

How to Cite

Portocarrero J, Palma-Pinedo H, Pesantes MA, Seminario G, Lema C. Traditional andean healers in the context of change: the case of Churcampa in Peru. Rev Peru Med Exp Salud Publica [Internet]. 2015 Sep. 24 [cited 2024 May 20];32(3):492-8. Available from:

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