Exploring the nature of partnership between African traditional and conventional health care in eThekwini district
Ndzimande, Busisiwe Edith
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Background : The current alarming growth of diseases and complications, especially in Africa, makes the integration of traditional and conventional health practices a priority in medical training, research and planning, and the funding of health services. Unplanned and/or unintended treatment non-compliance and unnecessary deaths from diseases like tuberculosis and Human Immunodeficiency Virus are escalating in spite of health information and/or education, support groups and awareness events. The World Health Organisation recommends Directly Observed Treatment Strategy for illnesses like tuberculosis, and suggests the inclusion of traditional health practitioners in the strategy because they are constantly in contact with the community and could therefore be utilized as reminders, support system, doctors and care givers. Therefore it is a high priority that traditional health practitioners be integrated into partnership with conventional medicine practitioners, as they are considered the entry point to primary health care programmes in South Africa. Aim of the study The aim of this study was to explore the nature of the partnership between the African traditional and conventional health care in the eThekwini District. Methodolody : A qualitative, multiple case study design was used to explore the partnership between African traditional and conventional health care within the South African health care system in the eThekwini district of KwaZulu-Natal Province. In attempting to explore and understand the extent to which both these health care systems work together, a qualitative research method was used. All ethical issues were considered after which individual interviews were conducted using an interview guide and a tape recorder. A cross-case synthesis was used to analyse data. Results : Results from the study suggest that a partnership is far from being implemented by both the Traditional Health Practitioners and Conventional Health Care Practitioners. It is apparent that they both do not share a common vision. The government has some responsibility and a major role to play in guiding such a partnership and making sure that the South African community is provided with best practices governed by policies and legislation that are transparent, fair and legally binding to everybody involved.