Sick Certificates Issued by South African Traditional Health Practitioners: Current Legislation, Challenges and the Way Forward (Issues IN Medicine) (Report)

Sick Certificates Issued by South African Traditional Health Practitioners: Current Legislation, Challenges and the Way Forward (Issues IN Medicine) (Report)

Since the African Union (AU) declared the Decade of African Traditional Medicine in 2001, African governments have recognised the wide use of traditional medicine, and the importance of optimising its integration into national health systems. (1) The World Health Organization (WHO) Traditional Medicine Strategy 20022005 provided a framework to promote traditional medicine and its integration into national healthcare to reduce mortality and morbidity, especially in the least-developed countries. (2) The WHO categorises national health systems on the extent to which traditional medicine is a recognised healthcare component: (2) (i) in an integrative system, traditional medicine is officially recognised and incorporated into all aspects of healthcare provision (only attained by China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea and Vietnam); (ii) in an inclusive system, traditional medicine is recognised, but is not fully integrated into healthcare provision; and (iii) in a tolerant system, national healthcare is based entirely on allopathic medicine, but certain traditional medicine practices are tolerated by law, as in South Africa. (3) The 2008 draft policy on African traditional medicine (4) provided a framework to institutionalise traditional medicine in South Africa, which, according to the WHO, means ‘the formalization and official incorporation of traditional medicine into national health systems and services’. (5) Some 80% of South Africans use traditional medicine to meet their primary healthcare needs. (2) Traditional health practitioners (THPs) have catered for the needs of millions of South Africans over centuries; however, the marginalisation of traditional medicine is linked to the historical legacy of apartheid and colonialism, (6) causing a divide in medical care, systems and practice. The African National Congress (ANC) Health Plan of 1994 stated that ‘traditional healing will become an integral and recognized part of health care in South Africa. Consumers will be allowed to choose whom to consult for their health care, and legislation will be changed to facilitate controlled use of traditional practitioners.’ (7)

Sick Certificates Issued by South African Traditional Health Practitioners: Current Legislation, Challenges and the Way Forward (Issues IN Medicine) (Report)



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