Desperate, sick Indonesians use railroad 'therapy'

August 2, 2011 By MICHAEL HOLTZ , Associated Press
Desperate, sick Indonesians use railroad 'therapy' (AP)
In this July 26, 2011 photo, villagers lie on a railway track for an electricity therapy in Rawa Buaya, Jakarta, Indonesia. People in the outskirt of the capital have been participating in the treatment believing that the the electricity current from the track could cure various diseases. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

(AP) -- Ignoring the red-and-white danger sign, Sri Mulyati walks slowly to the train tracks outside Indonesia's bustling capital, lies down and stretches her body across the rails.

Like the nearly dozen others lined up along the track, the 50-year-old diabetes patient has all but given up on doctors and can't afford the expensive medicines they prescribe.

In her mind, she has only one option left: electric therapy.

"I'll keep doing this until I'm completely cured," said Mulyati, twitching visibly as an oncoming sends an extra rush of current racing through her body.

She leaps from tracks as it approaches and then, after the last carriage rattles slowly by, climbs back into position.

Pseudo-medical treatments are wildly popular in many parts of Asia - where rumors about those miraculously cured after touching a magic stone or eating dung from sacred cows can attract hundreds, sometimes thousands.

That may be especially true in Indonesia, where chronic funding shortages and chaotic decentralization efforts since the 1998 ouster of longtime dictator Suharto have left many disillusioned with the state-sponsored health system, said Marius Widjajarta, chairman of the Indonesian Health Consumers Empowerment Foundation.

Medical experts say there is no evidence lying on the rails does any good.

But Mulyati insists it provides more relief for her symptoms - high-blood pressure, sleeplessness and - than any doctor has since she was first diagnosed with diabetes 13 years ago.

She turned to train track therapy last year after hearing a rumor about an ethnic Chinese man who was partially paralyzed by a stroke going to the tracks to kill himself, but instead finding himself cured.

It's a story that's been told and retold in Indonesia.

Until recently, more than 50 people would show up at the Rawa Buaya tracks every day. But the numbers have dropped since police and the state-run railroad company erected a warning sign and threatened penalties of up to three months in prison or fines of $1,800.

No one has been arrested yet, and none of the participants in train track therapy has died.

But the dedicated dozen a day who still come say they have no plans to stop.

"They told us not to do it anymore, but what else can I do," said Hadi Winoto, a 50-year-old stroke victim who has trouble walking.

"I want to be cured, so I have to come back."

Explore further: New ultrasonic technology could help prevent train derailments

shares

Related Stories

Diabetes? Some beat it, but are they cured?

April 19, 2009

(AP) -- JoAnne Zoller Wagner's diagnosis as prediabetic wasn't enough to compel her to change her habits and lose 30 pounds. Not even with the knowledge her sister had died because of diabetes.

US transport chief rides 300-mph Japanese maglev

May 11, 2010

(AP) -- U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took a ride Tuesday on the fastest passenger train in the world, a Japanese maglev, as part of Tokyo's sales pitch for billions of dollars in high-speed train contracts from ...

Schwarzenegger checks out China's high-speed rail

September 13, 2010

(AP) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is engaging in a little window-shopping of China's new high-speed train lines while peddling Californian exports and tourism in the world's second-largest economy.

Report: Transplant may have cured man of AIDS

December 15, 2010

A very unusual blood transplant appears to have cured an American man living in Berlin of infection with the AIDS virus, but doctors say the approach is not practical for wide use. The man, who is in his 40s, had a blood ...

Recommended for you

Team discovers how Zika virus causes fetal brain damage

August 24, 2016

Infection by the Zika virus diverts a key protein necessary for neural cell division in the developing human fetus, thereby causing the birth defect microcephaly, a team of Yale scientists reported Aug. 24 in the journal ...

Immune breakthrough: Unscratching poison ivy's rash

August 23, 2016

We all know that a brush with poison ivy leaves us with an itchy painful rash. Now, Monash University and Harvard researchers have discovered the molecular cause of this irritation. The finding brings us a step closer to ...

Zika infection may affect adult brain cells

August 18, 2016

Concerns over the Zika virus have focused on pregnant women due to mounting evidence that it causes brain abnormalities in developing fetuses. However, new research in mice from scientists at The Rockefeller University and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.