CEMETRA is a medical research and treatment complex located on the shores of the Sine, an Atlantic Ocean estuary in Fatick, Senegal, 150km from the capital, Dakar.

Experimental Center at Fatick

The Center has the following objectives:

  • to offer medical services that are effective, suitable and affordable.
  • to conduct experiments on the healing arts of traditional practitioners
  • to train, to inform, to educate and to exchange information
  • to fight against charlatanism
  • to study the reforestation and cultivation of medicinal plants

Sine at Fatick

CEMETRA’s facilities consist of

  • a reception unit
  • a modern medical office run by a medical doctor
  • a laboratory for biological analysis run by a biologist and laboratory technician
  • seven care units run by healers, the only ones empowered to treat patients
  • five hospitalization units with a capacity of 20 beds
  • a medicinal plants pharmacy
  • a conference unit for training, study and exchange
  • a library
  • a radiography unit
  • accommodation for subordinate staff
  • kitchen, bathrooms and storage support units
  • a penc: the palaver tree
  • a large communal square and stands for annual khoye ceremonies and seminars for healers
  • 9 annex units and 15 care units in the county town of each rural community
  • a large medicinal garden and forest to provide plant sources for the medicines utilized in treatments.

Healers under the penc

Garden of medicinal plants

Health care unit

CEMETRA healer and herbal medicines

Each health care unit at CEMETRA is dedicated to a district town that comprises three to five rural communities. Each rural community in turn contains a grassroots association consisting of approximately 40 healers. Thus each health care unit is available to 120 to 200 healers. The rural associations set up their own rotating residence system for the health care units, with the result that each unit has around four resident healers with complementary skills and knowledge. The associations also set up a second rotation schedule for the annex units in the towns, so that two healers are always present in each.

All patients admitted to CEMETRA for treatment follow a standard routine. At the outpatients unit admissions staff open a file on the patient. It includes a registration number, the date of arrival, medical and personal data, complaint, previous and the unit to which the patient will be assigned. A double file is opened for patients who head a family – one for the patient and one for the family. All patients belonging to the same family have the same registration number. Patients purchase a ticket for CFA 500 ($1US), which covers a medical examination with laboratory tests, consultation with a medical doctor, and consultation and treatment with a traditional healer.

The initial diagnosis is made by a medical doctor after examining the patient and ordering necessary laboratory tests.
The laboratory team includes a biologist and lab technician and provides cytological, serological, and hematological tests. There are three full-time lab staff members and two part-timers. The doctor records the laboratory results but does not intervene in the treatment process. Traditional healers are the only health professionals authorized to provide therapy.

The medical doctor sends the patient with his diagnosis to a care unit for treatmen units, but only healers have the authority to order hospitalization. To date more than 30,000 patients from five continents have been treated.t by healer. (There are four healers with complementary skills available at each unit.) Healers conduct their own examination of the patient, and their diagnosis may differ from that of the medical doctor. The doctor, however, follows up with patients both during and after treatment by healers. Patients may also be hospitalized in one of the two 20-bed hospitalization

History of CEMETRA

The Center evolved from annual meetings PROMETRA held starting in 1984. These meetings, each organized around a different theme, brought together doctors, researchers and traditional healers. At the end of the 1987 thematic meeting, the participants recommended the creation of an experimental center for traditional medicine as a way to involve traditional healers in the national health system. One year later, PROMETRA received a support to build the Center from the NOVIB, a Dutch institution.

CEMETRA was inaugurated by the government of Senegal on January 29, 1989, on a 60-hectare plot of land provided by the government of Senegal. The Center is located near a village called Foundiougne, just outside the city of Fatick. The Senegalese government has long been a strong supporter of traditional medicine and the projects carried out at the Center. The first lady of Senegal, Madam Wade, has visited the Center, along with many government ministers to express support for our work.

CEMETRA Accomplishments

During its 13 years of existence, the Center has carried out several multidisciplinary and cross-sector-based research studies, independently and in collaboration with African, European and American institutions, organizations and universities.

  • Study on the Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) of Traditional Healers in Senegal in 1989
  • 1990: Traditional Medicine Project – Phase I: Achieved in partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine and the Tulane School of Public Health (1990)
  • 1993: Traditional Medicine Project – Phase II. Achieved in partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine and the Tulane School of Public Health (1993)
  • Traditional Medicine Research Project: (1994)
  • Coumba Lamba, USA: Executed in partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine and the Cosaan Foundation (1995)
  • Traditional Medicine Project – Phase II. Achieved in partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine and the Tulane School of Public Health (1996)
  • The Role of Religion and Spirituality in the Lives of Persons with Disabilities – Fetzer Institute, Kalamazoo, Michigan USA (1999)
  • Study on Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) (1999)
  • Socio-anthropological Study on Traditional Healers of the Malango Association in the Sine region of Senegal and on patients treated at the Experimental Center for Traditional Medicine (1999)
  • Analysis of Treatment Methods of the Experimental Center for Traditional Medicine (CEMETRA) in Fatick, Senegal for the period 1989-1999 (1999)
  • HIV/AIDS in Africa/ The role of Traditional Medicine (1999)
  • Scieintific Research into African Traditional Medicine Therapies (2000)
  • Establishment of Medicinal Garden (2000)
  • Fencing for the protection of the center (2000)
  • Establishment of reliable electricity (2000)
  • Efficacy of African Herbal Medicine (METRAFAIDS) in the Treatment of HIV Positive African Populations – Report of Clinical Observational Study (2002)