Institutionalisation of African Traditional Medicine in SA discussed in Public Lecture
Hosted by the Discipline of Community Development (School of Built Environment and Development Studies), the SA Research Chair in Indigenous Health Care Systems, Professor Nceba Gqaleni, presented a public lecture titled: “Institutionalisation and Professionalisation of African Traditional Medicine in South Africa”.
Gqaleni conducts basic and applied research into traditional medicine and Indigenous Health Care Systems.
In his lecture, Gqaleni provided a historical account of the policy framework on the Institutionalisation of African Traditional Medicine in South Africa, emphasising that the traditional medicine sector required developmental support as it was used by a large percentage of the South African population.
Explaining the role of traditional healers and their link to Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), Gqaleni said: ‘When a patient visits a healer, the healer checks the person’s spiritually. They want to restore the individual as a person. Modern medicine would treat the TB bacteria in the patient, while the healers will treat patients as whole people. Traditional medicine is embedded in Ubuntu and Africanism and there is wisdom in traditional knowledge.’
Gqaleni sees traditional technologies and innovations as a viable, humane and sustainable path to economic development. ‘Access to resources and the associated traditional knowledge can provide substantial benefits to public health,’ he said.
He had this advice for students: ‘African Traditional Medicine needs to be treated with respect. As future community developers, you need to be conscious of this as you go about enriching the lives of people within communities.’
In his closing remarks, Gqaleni said a national policy on Traditional Medicine was in its final stage of development which will lead to changes in legislation.