A variety of traditional medical systems thrive with vigour in Malaysia among the Malay, Orang Asli, Iban, Kadazan and Chinese peoples. The bases of these systems reflect the cultural concept of the “universe” of each ethnic group. It is noted that traditional medicine accomodates a larger proportion of illness thought to be due to supernatural causes than does modern medicine. Traditional medicine is supportive, personal and holistic in its approach in contrast with modern scientific medicine which tends to be mechanistic, impersonal, organ-oriented and individualistic. Modern and traditional medical systems are viewed as potentially complementary rather than contradictory. The traditional medicine-man can be viewed as a ritual specialist and a focus of social and emotional support for the patient, such a role being complementary to the role of the modern physician.