Ailments and symptoms        

An ailment is a bodily disorder or a chronic disease that affect normal functioning of the body. A symptom is the feeling of being unwell that is experienced by one who is ailing. This is used to identify the kind of disease one has and given the right treatment.

Amongst the Marakwet and Keiyo mental illness, infertility in women, chronic diseases such as diabetes and fractured skull are reserved for traditional healers, whereas diseases such as respiratory pneumonia, fever and accidents are treated by modern medicine.

Each disease has different symptoms. An example is chicken pox which is a highly contagious viral infection causing an itchy blister-like rash on the skin. It is highly contagious to those who haven’t had the disease before.

The itchy blister rash caused by chicken pox infection appears 10 to 21 days after exposure to the virus and last 5-10 days. Other symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, headache, tiredness, and general feeling of being unwell. Once the rash appears it goes through 3 stages: raised pink or red bumps which break out over several days. Small fluid filled blisters which form in about a day then leak and crusts which cover the broken blisters and takes several days to heal.

Chicken pox is normally a mild disease, but it can be serious and can lead to further complications. Therefore, medical attention is highly advised.

Herbs and drugs         

Herbs generally refer to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant. Herbs have a variety of uses including culinary, medicinal and in some cases spiritual.

The medicinal plants used by herbalists in Kenya have not been well documented, despite their widespread use. The threat of complete disappearance of the knowledge on herbal medicine from factors such as deforestation, lack of proper regulation, overexploitation and socio-cultural issues warrant an urgent need to document information on medicinal plants used by herbalists in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Herbal medicine is still common and they have up to 100 plants that were identified to have medicinal or related uses. Different herbal preparations including fruits and healing vegetables are employed in the treatment of various medical conditions veterinary uses and pesticides were also recorded.

Traditional herbal medicine is still an important component of healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is largely due to poverty, Inadequacy of health services and shortage of health workers. Even when facilities exist, there is rampant shortage of drugs and equipment.

Like many other developing countries, the use of traditional herbal medicine is still widespread in Kenya, especially in rural areas. In some instances, herbal medicine are combined with conventional medicine, especially when the subjects feel that the prescription of drugs are not effective.


Surgery is a medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrument techniques on a patient to investigate or treat a pathological condition such as a disease or injury. This will help improve bodily function or repair unwanted raptured areas.

Surgery is one of the most risky medical procedures. However, some unschooled traditional healers are doing it with ease. The traditional surgeons, especially from Marakwet community, do not demand money from their patients but only a token which can be a goat, sheep or any amount of money the patient is capable of paying after recovering fully. The practice, they say, is a community service that should not be commercialized.

Five billion people worldwide lack access to timely and safe and affordable surgical and anesthesia care. Areas in which specifically a large proportion of the population lack access include rural areas in most parts of Africa.

Although the traditional medics are playing a crucial role in treating patients with skull injuries, the operations are done under unhygienic conditions. Some of the operations have backfired and many have experienced excessive bleeding, infections, and even paralysis brought about by damaged brains.

As much as it might be risky, residents still go to the local surgeons because neurologists are rare and expensive. In North Rift there is only one neurologist; therefore, it’s not convenient for residents.


Midwifery is the health science that deals with pregnancy, child birth and post-partum period. In many countries, midwifery is a medical profession. A professional in midwifery is known as a midwife.

In ancient Egypt, midwifery was a recognized female occupation. However, there were certain characteristics desired in a good midwife which included good memory, loving work, respectable and generally not handicapped.

The actual duties of the midwife in antiquity consisted mainly in the birthing process. However, they also assisted on other medical problems relating to women. Often, the midwife would call for assistance of a physician when a more difficult birth was anticipated. In many cases, the physician brought along two or three assistants.

Traditionally, it was believed by both midwives and physicians that childbirth was made easier when a woman sat upright. Therefore, during parturition, midwives brought a stool to the home where delivery was to take place. In the seat of the birthstool was a crescent shaped hole through which the baby would be delivered. The birthstool often had armrests for the mother to grasp during delivery.

The services of a midwife were not inexpensive; this fact suggests poorer women who could not afford the services of professional midwives often had to make do with female relatives, especially older people.

Health education        

Recent decades have seen major changes in health issues. This development has been marked by the relative increase in diseases related to lifestyle, or negative behaviours considered to be at risk for negative health consequences.

Prevention, health education and health promotion are some of the diverse labels of the numerous activities involved in reducing risks and modifying behaviours with the aim of improving the quality of life and prolonging it.

Informal health education with moralistic content is a kind of non-curricular health education which exist parallel to formal health education lessons but which influence student-teachers professional identity formation in complex ways by provoking resistance but also strengthening the community of student-teachers.

In traditional African societies, health education was offered by the elders. Girls were taught by their mothers and grandmothers on how to carry themselves and on how to take care of their bodies as girls. On the other hand, boys were guided by their fathers and grandfathers. Children belonged to the community and anyone older had a right to correct any child in the community.