“We must take the old systems [of medicine] more seriously if we are to achieve the goal of health for all”

Pratapi Bai is one of the guni masters at JJVS, known for her skills at the local, national and international level. She began learning about traditional medicine at age 10 while watching her father, a locally renowned traditional healer, provide treatment for over 1000 households in the area. It was very uncommon for women to be trained as Gunis in rural Rajasthan. She often was tasked with picking medicinal plants from the garden and assisting her father on various cases, thus receiving informal training in bone setting, asthma, fever and urinary tract problems. Her mother was also a healer and had extensive knowledge in women’s’ health issues, which she passed on to Pratapi. At age 16, Pratapi was married to Chena Ramji, a farmer who is supportive of her work as a traditional healer and helps collect herbs for her medicinal treatments. She gained experience as a Traditional Birth Attendant and by age 20 began delivering babies in her village. In 1993, she joined JJVS and was able to receive training to become an official Guni. This training consisted of classes in biology, natural healing, and medicinal plants, as well as sharing of traditional medicine knowledge by all Gunis present. This training expanded her expertise of various health issues. Now Pratapi Bai is able to treat kidney stones, hemorrhoids, and blood blockages. By closely collaborating with JJVS and other Gunis, she has been able to share her familiar knowledge as well as gain new knowledge from others that has helped her provide better care for her patients. Her work as a traditional healer and midwife granted her the trust and gratitude from her village, and she was elected as a leader of the local government Panchayat.