Dr. Tabatha Parker was chosen as an Utne Reader visionary in 2011. Each year Utne Reader puts forward its selection of world visionaries—people who don’t just concoct great ideas but also act on them.
Dr. Tabatha Parker Online Extras | 2011 Visionaries Home Page
The global health care system is in crisis, says Dr. Tabatha Parker, founder of Natural Doctors International (NDI). It relies on the exportation of a Western model—one that doesn’t even work in the countries it’s coming from—to developing countries that can’t afford it.
Parker, a naturopathic doctor, sees NDI as a bridge between exported conventional medicine and centuries-old indigenous healing techniques, such as the use of herbal medicine, which in some places in the world is the dominant type of health care. “That has to be a part of the system if you’re going to actually reach people,” Parker says. Naturopathic doctors “are trained in a way that no one else in the world is trained: to be [that] bridge.”
NDI was set up to provide a permanent presence of naturopathic doctors in developing countries. The nonprofit has a location in Nicaragua, and it has worked with the World Health Organization’s traditional medicine arm to broaden its understanding of natural medicine. That’s just the beginning for Parker, though, who sees NDI becoming a sort of Doctors Without Borders for naturopaths, and she hopes to establish permanent sites worldwide, all working as a link between old and new.