Integrating traditional medical knowledge into mainstream healthcare

3 July, 2018

This new paper looks interesting, but unfortunately the full text is restricted-access.

The role of 'traditional medical knowledge' is highly contoversial. Like many others, this paper says 'the majority of the population depend on indigenous healing knowledge for their healthcare', but what is needed is a critical assessment of both the harms and benefits of traditional health care. The harms in terms of unnecessary suffering and death are many and very well documented - the benefits less so.

CITATION: Integrating traditional medical knowledge into mainstream healthcare in Limpopo Province

Jan Resenga Maluleka, Mpho Ngoepe...

First Published July 1, 2018 Research Article


In most African states, the majority of the population depend on indigenous healing knowledge for their healthcare. This knowledge is in danger of being obliterated due to a number of factors such as it being not documented, low life expectancy where people die before transferring it to the next generation and the governments failing to incorporate it into the mainstream health system that is often overloaded. This qualitative study adopted a hermeneutic phenomenology to investigate the development of a framework to integrate knowledge of traditional healing into the mainstream healthcare system in the Limpopo province. Data were collected through interviews with traditional healers chosen through snowball sampling technique augmented by observations and analysis of legislation, notes, records and other forms of documents held by healers. Data were analysed and interpreted thematically according to the objectives of the study. The study established that indigenous medical knowledge is marginalised, and healers are not getting support from the government despite the important role they play in the national health systems. Traditional healing is not properly regulated creating a loophole for anyone to practise as a healer. A framework that points the link factors that attempt to create an understanding of how knowledge of traditional healing can be managed and integrated into the mainstream healing is proposed. It is concluded that failure to recognise traditional healing and integrate it in the mainstream health system will continue to hamstring the health system with resources in South Africa.

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (, which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: