The perceptions of homoeopathic doctors practicing in KwaZulu Natal on their role in the public healthcare system in South Africa
Majola, Sindile Fortunate
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South Africa has a dual healthcare system which consists of the public and private healthcare sectors. The private healthcare sector is used by a small percentage of South Africans as its services are more expensive. It makes provision for both allopathic and Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners. In contrast, the public healthcare sector employs only allopathic practitioners. Due to its services being rendered free of charge or at very low cost, it caters for the majority of the population and as a result has become overburdened. South Africa’s healthcare system is undergoing major changes in order to ease the burden on the public sector. The integration of homoeopathy into this sector is a possible viable solution. In order to facilitate integration, homoeopathic practitioners should be in agreement with this radical change and suggest ways in which this paradigm shift can be initiated. Hence, the overall aim of this study was to explore the perceptions of homoeopathic practitioners on their role in the public healthcare system in South Africa. The paucity of research on the perceptions of homoeopathic doctors suggests that this is an unexplored topic. This study therefore employed a qualitative approach based on the grounded theory method. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to determine homoeopathic practitioners’ perceptions of this phenomenon. Participants were selected using snowball sampling. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were also used to guide the selection of the research participants. The participants were interviewed individually using an interview guideline. Each interview was audio recorded and transcribed prior to data analysis. Once transcribed, the data was evaluated and analyzed manually. Four commons themes emerged from the data. The prevalence, frequency and variation (in the frequency) of each theme amongst the participants was established. Further analysis revealed links between all four themes. It was evident that knowledge/awareness of homoeopathy, the homoeopathic education system and the in-practice experiences of homoeopathic doctors all influence integration. These factors represented homoeopathic practitioners’ perceptions on such integration. The identification of the factors that influence integration is a clear indication that the homoeopathic practitioners who participated in this study are aware of their role in the public healthcare system and that the majority would welcome a shift from the private to the public healthcare sector. There is thus a need for further nationwide and more in-depth research on integration.