Original Research

Perceptions and experiences of allopathic health practitioners on collaboration with traditional health practitioners in post-apartheid South Africa

Simon M. Nemutandani, Stephen J. Hendricks, Mavis F. Mulaudzi
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 8, No 2 | a1007 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v8i2.1007 | © 2016 Simon M. Nemutandani, Stephen J. Hendricks, Mavis F. Mulaudzi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 August 2015 | Published: 10 June 2016

About the author(s)

Simon M. Nemutandani, Public Health Department, School of Health Sciences, University of Limpopo, South Africa
Stephen J. Hendricks, School of Health System and Public Health, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Mavis F. Mulaudzi, Nursing Department, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The indigenous health system was perceived to be a threat to the allopathic health system. It was associated with ‘witchcraft’, and actively discouraged, and repressed through prohibition laws. The introduction of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 of 2007 brought hope that those centuries of disrespect for traditional health systems would change. The study examined the perceptions and experiences of allopathic health practitioners on collaboration with traditional health practitioners in post-apartheid South Africa.

Methods: Qualitative descriptive research methodology was used to collect data from allopathic health practitioners employed by Limpopo’s Department of Health. In-depth focus group discussions and meetings were conducted between January and August 2014. Perceptions and experiences of working with traditional health practitioners were explored. Ethical clearance was obtained from the University of Pretoria and approval from the Department’s Research Committee.

Results: Dominant views were that the two health systems were not compatible with respect to the science involved and the source of knowledge. Overall, quality of health care will be compromised if traditional health practitioners are allowed to work in public health facilities.

Conclusion: Allopathic health practitioners do not appear ready to work with traditional health practitioners, citing challenges of quality of health care, differences regarding concept of sciences and source of knowledge; and lack of policy on collaboration. Lack of exposure to traditional medicine seems to impede opportunities to accept and work with traditional healers. Exposure and training at undergraduate level regarding the traditional health system is recommended. Policy guidelines on collaborations are urgently required.


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