Nurses Need to be Sensitised to African Medicine – Traditional Healer
Early Diagnosis of Psychosis by Traditional Healers and their Partnerships with Psychiatrists at Townhill Hospital, was the title of a seminar presented on the Howard College campus by UKZN Masters Nursing graduate and traditional healer Mr Elliot Makhathini.
Makhathini focused on the importance of culture competence and stressed that despite the shift from the biomedical approach to a social one, further changes were necessary in the recognition of an African worldview linked to the causes and management of illness.
‘The integration of the Western health system and the South African traditional medicine system allows for the retention of belief structures and an opportunity for healthcare providers to learn from each other. Recognition was given to each system holding limitations and merits and because of this process, growth is possible, and allows for cross referral,’ said Makhathini.
He stressed the importance of sensitising nurses to African medicine and then proceeded to discuss the core topic of the day.
The seminar gave attention to terms, roles and practices including ukuthwasa, isibhobo, Izangoma, abathakathi, amagobongo and izinyanga. An opportunity was provided for the participants to differentiate between izizwe, amafufunyane and umhayizo.
Evidence of traditional healers working together harmoniously was seen in the manner in which questions from students and academic staff were answered. Students actively engaged in the interactions and posed many questions in a lively Q&A session.
The seminar was organised for both the academic staff and Bachelor of Nursing students (Psychiatric Nursing Science module) by the discipline’s Dr Ann Jarvis.
‘In line with the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, and as a World Health Organization collaborating centre, the Discipline appreciates the importance of producing relevant and responsive graduates who can meet the ever-changing needs of the current heath care context,’ said Jarvis.
‘In order for graduates to be relevant in their delivery of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) they need to develop an understanding of the African worldview with its different perspectives of illness, compared to a Western worldview.’
Dr Winnie Cele extended a warm welcome to Makhathini and his colleagues: Mr H Mkhwanazi, Mr AB Madlala, Ms NG Sibiya, Ms N C Ngcobo, Ms M Memela, and Mr B W Mkhize who heads up the Pietermaritzburg Traditional Healers’ Society.
Professor Gugu Mchunu thanked Makhathini and the traditional healers for visiting the discipline, ‘Thank you for a wonderful informative and thought-provoking interactive session.’
Words: Nombuso Dlamini