The present and future roles of Traditional Health Practitioners within the formal healthcare sector of South Africa, as guided by the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007)
MetadataShow full item record
Background: The promulgation of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007) was seen as the long awaited start-up of the traditional healing profession in South Africa. Act No 22 (2007) was strongly politically driven from the late 1960s onward. Many of these political motivators were based upon outdated cultural ideas, customs and traditions, rooted outside the modern day healthcare needs and demands of the particular population that traditional healing intends to serve. An in-depth needs and skills analysis, to test the viability and sustainability of the South African traditional healers as well as their positions and roles as health practitioners inside the formal healthcare sector, as guided and stipulated by the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007), was lacking in this early development and start-up process. This resulted in the traditional healers' present and future roles as specific healthcare practitioners being both undefined and insufficiently formulated. In addition their existing education, training, skills and abilities to compete in the formal healthcare sector were ignored. Therefore, since the promulgation of the Act in 2007, there was limited professional-development for traditional healers, to improve their immediate professionalism and thus to promote effective role-playing and management in the formal healthcare sector. The South African traditional healing professional model is still in the foundational stage of its professional development; a stage which the other registered/regulated healthcare practitioners of the country surpassed long ago, making them well-equipped for role-playing and management as health professionals in the formal healthcare sector. The whole venture of the statutory recognition of the traditional health practitioners in 2007 as new healthcare professionals with the promulgation of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007) seems to increasingly be a failure. There is thus a definite need to establish how the South African traditional healers are equipped to compete independently in the healthcare sector. If this is not possible, what alternatives are available to steer some of them into the country's healthcare sector and still make them useful as health practitioners. Coupled to this need is the future status and role of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007), to uphold the roles of traditional healers. Aims: The study aims to determine the present and future roles of the traditional health practitioner in the South African formal healthcare sector, as guided by the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007). Methods: This is an exploratory and descriptive study that makes use of a historical approach by means of investigation and a literature review. The emphasis is upon using current documentation such as articles, books and newspapers as primary sources to reflect upon the present and future roles of traditional health practitioners within the regulated healthcare sector of South Africa, as guided by the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007). The findings are offered in narrative form. Results: It seems as though the professional position and foundation of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007) is on a level that is meant for the governing of a healthcare group with a well-established learning and management infrastructure. This is an unfortunate situation wherein the incoming traditional healer unfortunately cannot meet the requirements at the moment. Various negative factors have affected the South African traditional healers' development and position. These include early political out-casting and discrimination from training facilities and work opportunities in the healthcare sector under White Rule, while poor organization, strategy and future planning and a lack of self-promotion by traditional healers themselves regarding their positions and roles over the years, seem also to have contributed negatively to the situation. The immediate impact is that this predisposition unfortunately places the traditional health practitioners in situations wherein they cannot always take specific roles at present or in the future as healers in the South African healthcare sector, as intended and guided by the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 of 2007. Conclusion: To expect the South African traditional health practitioners to function at present and in future fully within the intentions of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007), executing certain roles as independent health practitioners in the formal healthcare sector, seems to a great extent impossible. Wherever they are successfully placed in the healthcare sector, their positions and roles seem to be limited. Furthermore, the traditional healers' places in the formal healthcare sector were already taken by the allied health professions, by such practitioners as homeopaths, naturopaths and ethno-therapists, etc. Thus they are obliged to compete with the already established nursing practitioners, psychiatrists and psychologists, as well as medical doctors, all established in clearly defined and functioning roles. These work inclinations and reservations further minimize their roles dramatically in the formal healthcare sector. To consider the future of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007) and its two outcomes, namely the Traditional Health Practitioners Council as well as the traditional health practitioner, there are at present three urgent issues. The prominent question is: can the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007) continue in its present form or must it be recalled? In its present manifestation the Act and the traditional healers seem to be ineffective and aimless. It is time to consider alternatives to assure the continuation of the traditional healers as practitioners in the South African healthcare sector. The most obvious and practical one is to accommodate some of the traditional healers, where applicable and possible, in some of the various already established professional Health Councils as healthcare professionals.
- Faculty of Humanities