Swimming from Island to Island: Healing Practice in Tonga



The health care system of the Pacific island nation of Tonga serves as example of enduring medical pluralism which incorporates traditional and Western medical practice and accommodates contemporary political and social change. Biomedicine is represented by the hospital and the community health centers; traditional medicine is practiced in homes healers. Both types of therapies are popularly utilized for different ailments or for the same problem at different points in the illness. Contemporary healing is described and is also analyzed as an expression of social change occurring in Tonga as a result of a political movement toward democracy, [medical pluralism, illness belief/practice, cultural identity, Tonga]