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Desperate, sick Indonesians lie across railroad tracks as 'therapy'

Achmad Ibrahim / AP

Villagers lie on a railway track and wait for a train to rattle by for electricity therapy in Rawa Buaya, Jakarta, Indonesia, on July 26. People have been participating in the practise believing that the the electricity current from the track could cure various diseases.

 

The AP reports:

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.

 

Achmad Ibrahim / AP

 

"I'll keep doing this until I'm completely cured," said Mulyati, twitching visibly as an oncoming passenger train 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.

Achmad Ibrahim / AP

 

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 high cholesterol — than any doctor has since she was first diagnosed with diabetes 13 years ago.

Desperate and ailing people lie on train tracks in Indonesia hoping the electric currents produced by passing trains will help cure them. TODAY.com's Dara Brown reports.