Although cosmopolitan medicine plays an increasingly important role in developing countries, people still use indigenous medicines. A 1983 survey in two Sinhalese communities in Sri Lanka investigated the patients' use of cosmopolitan or traditional treatments for various illnesses. It appears that for acute complaints, or when a child seems seriously ill, people use cosmopolitan medicine. For common ailments which are known to be self-limiting, people use traditional home remedies and consult Ayurvedic practitioners. In chronic complaints some patients use cosmopolitan medicine, while others prefer the Ayurvedic system or use both kinds of medicine. For a 'snakebite' or a 'fracture' people prefer the local specialists and for mental illnesses they consult the adura and Buddhist clerguy; as a last resort they turn to the cosmopolitan facility. Ayurvedic medicine does not play a role of any importance in the treatment of mental disease. The aduras in the rural areas and the Buddhist monks and priests in the more urban areas have a clear function in the management of mental disease. Institutionally trained Ayurvedic practitioners have a less clear function, since they often dispense cosmopolitan medicines. © 1988.
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