Survivor Rongelap: Health issues and use of traditional medicine among the women of Rongelap Atoll

Jodi Stevens Releford, Will C. McClatchey

Abstract


 

The people of Rongelap atoll have always been survivors. For centuries they survived in one of the most extreme environments in the world by making the most of the resources available to them. Life was further complicated when they were exposed to fallout from nuclear testing by the U.S. Consequently they have suffered horrible medical ailments and exile from their island home. With plans now in the works for repatriation to Rongelap atoll, safety is the first concern. We believe that the risk of consuming traditional plant-based remedies on Rongelap has been underestimated. Women and infants are particularly at risk because they utilize far more traditional remedies than the rest of the community. Some returning Rongelap Islanders may be consuming more than 60 times the number of remedies than was previously thought. We make some suggestions of ways to make the consumption of traditional remedies safe while still maintaining important cultural traditions.

 


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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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