The insufficient formulation and vagueness of the definition 'Traditional Health Practitioner' as included in the Traditional Health Practitioners Act (Act No 22, 2007) of South Africa
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Background: The main focus of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007) is the regulation of traditional healing in South Africa. The role player who has to deliver this traditional health service to the public is the statutorily recognized traditional health practitioner. However, thus far the precise health practice offered, training and the practitioner's role as a healer in the society, have not been clearly defined. The various definitions and descriptions in the literature of the identity of the traditional healer are contradictory, making the formulation of a single definition and meaning impossible. Aims: The study aimed to determine a definition for traditional health practitioner. Methods: This is an exploratory and descriptive study in line with the modern historical approach of the investigation and review of the available research. The emphasis is on using documentation like articles, books and newspapers as primary resources to reflect on everyday thinking and opinions around the identity of the traditional healer. The findings are represented in narrative format. Results: The Traditional Health Practitioners Act's regulations, as embedded in its 52 Sections, create a legal framework of definitions. One specific definition outlines what is meant by the traditional health practitioner. This definition includes four sub-types of healers, namely the diviner, herbalist, traditional birth attendant and traditional surgeon. Various other names for and types of traditional healers seem to exists outside the Act's statutory definitions. It also seems as if the practice scopes, training and methods of diagnosis and treatments of these different healers are not uniform. Conclusion: It seems that the legal definition of a traditional health practitioner, as offered by the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22, is vague and insufficiently formulated. This shortcoming frustrates the intention of the Act to make the traditional health practitioner the exclusive role player who has to deliver a traditional health service to the public.
- Faculty of Humanities