The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that around 80% of the people on the African continent rely on traditional medicine for their basic health needs. In some cases, traditional medicine is the only healthcare service that is available, accessible and affordance for most people and hence, its significance contributions should never be underestimated despite the seemingly entrenched bias and preferences towards modern (or western) medicine. African traditional medicine is a broad discipline encompassing indigenous herbalism and African spirituality, using the vast knowledge, skills and practices of traditional healers for the maintenance of health, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of physical and mental illnesses. In many African countries, there has been a commitment to involve traditional healers practitioners (THPs) into modern healthcare to strengthen the role of African traditional medicine.
The THPs, which include herbalists, diviners and faith healers amongst others, are differentiated based on the methods employed to diagnose and treat patients, and therefore, collaboration with general practitioners in the mainstream healthcare system may require a careful selection of the relevant THPs. In South Africa, a country with an overburdened healthcare system and unequal access to healthcare services, the role of African Traditional Medicine and THPs may enhance chances of citizens to access basic health needs. However, reluctancy to access healthcare from THPs owing to the historical perceptions associated with African Traditional Medicine may prevent many people from trusting THPs.
The main purpose of the webinar will be to contribute to profiling the field of African Traditional Medicine, highlighting the critical role of THPs in the healthcare of many people in rural (and urban) areas. The webinar will seek to present findings to the extent that South Africa has integrated African Traditional Medicine into its modern healthcare system. The webinar will be facilitated on the 15 September 2022 and will form part of a campaign by NRF-SAASTA to create broad awareness of indigenous knowledge systems and in particular, the sub-category of African Traditional Medicine.
- To profile the broad field of African Traditional Medicine highlight its role in modern healthcare systems.
- To present findings and viewpoints on the involvement of African Traditional Medicine in the healthcare system and the complementary relationships between modern and traditional medicine.