Medical pluralism comprises of the totality of medical subsystems that coincide in a cooperative or competitive relationship with each other. It is utilized distinctively in different societies around the world. Medical pluralism is the interference of two or more medical practices in a society. It exists in such a way that an active agent can choose the mode of medical practice from a rage of possible alternatives. Medical pluralism plays a huge role in South Africa as it is a diverse country with different cultural and belief systems. Medical pluralism is sub-divided between biomedicine and traditional medicine. The essay will describe the array of healthcare strategies that form different cultures pluralistic healthcare systems and how these cultures choose which path to take.
South Africa being a developing country relies on the technological studies of curing diseases and illness that occurs within people whereas African medicinal use has been practiced for over many years and can cure all the illnesses and diseases. Biomedicine practitioners are very skeptical about traditional medicine as they believe that the two does not mix.
South Africa’s history as a country does have an influence in the health care system in townships and rural areas. During the Apartheid era the government segregated people based on their race into different parts of the country and by doing so the black population consulted sangomas if they were ill, faced with problems just everything in general. A traditional healer(sangoma) in the South African context is someone who possesses the gifts of receiving spiritual guidance from the ancestral world. In many cases we find that the individual who has these powers is someone selected by the ancestors from a historical family background that has a powerful ancestral lineage.
Health care systems are placed into a hierarchy based on class, race, ethnicity, religion, gender and social status. In some cultures, and communities, the treatment option can be based on convenience, accessibility meaning that people from townships and rural areas would consult with a traditional healer because the clinic might be to far for them, they do not get attended, they do not have enough medication etc. Biomedicine/western medicine includes those that obtain formal training being nurses, doctors, pharmacists etc. This form of treatment was founded in the 1900’s based on the scientific reasoning with the emphasis on pathogens. Even though biomedicine has become more dominant in industrialized societies with large bureaucracies and legal systems.
Majority of traditional African people believe that certain diseases are caused by supernatural beings where ceremonies and rituals are performed to cure sickness, enhance body functioning, promote health and marriage. These rituals are a way of communicating with the ancestors and even ensuring that the ancestors look after the family and ensure that the dead take a safe trip to the afterlife.
The government’s worry is the poor health status of the South African individuals. With the spread of numerous illnesses that have lessened the wellbeing status of the general population, it is up to government to discover answers for control the spread of diseases that are debilitating the lives of the general population, particularly the individuals who can’t manage the cost of private medicinal services. The focus in such manner will be on African traditional healers and diviners in South Africa. This class incorporates diviners (Sangoma), herbalist (inyanga), customary birth chaperons and conventional specialists (Wreford, 2007). The law characterizes conventional wellbeing practice as; The execution of a capacity, action, process or administration in view of a customary logic that incorporates the use of customary medication or customary practice and which has its protest 1.) The upkeep or rebuilding of physical or psychological wellness or capacity 2.) The determination, treatment or counteractive action of a physical or dysfunctional behavior 3.) The restoration of a man to empower that individual to continue typical working inside the family or network or 4.) The physical or mental arrangement of a person for pubescence, adulthood, pregnancy, labor and demise 5.) But it rejects the expert exercises of a man rehearsing any of the callings mulled over in the Pharmacy, the Health Professions, the Nursing, the Dental Technicians Acts, and some other movement not base on customary logic (The Republic of South Africa, THPA Act, 2007). An African conventional medicinal specialist or healer is characterized as somebody who is perceived by the network in which she/he lives as equipped to give human services by utilizing animals or mineral substances and other certain techniques considering the social, culture and religious foundations and additionally winning learning, dispositions and convictions with respect to physical mental and social prosperity and cautiousness of illness in the community(http: //www.worldhealtheorganisation.org). A traditional healer is called through a dream by his/her ancestors. They show him/her a place where they must go in order to be trained.
According to Levine (2012) traditional healers have a crucial role to play in building the health system in South Africa and strengthening, supporting the national response to HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS and TB can be managed with the right treatment taken daily but people that experience symptoms of an illness are aware of what might be wrong with them but will be scared to seek professional medical help, and instead go to a traditional healer. In the reading written by Xaba (1998) Mr. and Mrs. Ndlovu are an example of people that consult traditional healers instead of going to the hospital because it was to “pricey” and amongst other reasons language communication plays a huge role as it becomes a barrier for people not to seek medical help.
From my experience there have been family friends that has resulted in seeking traditional help instead of medical help because they were in denial of being HIV. They went against their beliefs since they were Christians to find answers and ended up being a sangoma because they believed that them being sick was sign from the ancestors that being a sangoma is their calling and what they are destined for. People that cannot afford medicine or go to clinics and hospitals will go to traditional healers since they are cheaper, convenient and they believe that using natural remedies will cure them and bring them closer to the ancestors.
Traditional healers are remarkable in that they have profound blessings to mend society and to prepare for insidious spirits that beset the network. They are, in general, an extraordinary resource for the eventual fate of South Africa and the government needs to give them legitimate acknowledgment as well as to regard their line of recuperating as it is essential to African culture. We cannot get away from the way that South Africa is part of the African continent. This implies that ceremonies of healing and African social practices are inserted in the public existence of numerous clans that form part of this nation.
The new enactment gone by the legislature is to endeavor to legitimately perceive the way that African conventional healers in South Africa have a critical job as an influence of the wellbeing framework in the nation. The healthcare system has experienced dramatic changes since 1994, including the moving of portfolio advisory group individuals from Nkosazana Zuma in 1994 to the present minister of health Dr. Tshabalala- Msimang and the unlimited complexities of strategy usage. The Traditional Health Practitioners Act. No 22 of 2007 gives a reasonable depiction of the different sorts of customary healers working in South Africa and how we can separate between them. Be that as it may, while the Act sets out various goals for the administration, it speaks minimal about how the practica control profound mending.
The advantage of biomedicine is that along with technology it can look deeper into diseases and illnesses and find ways in which to attack the main source and ways in preventing it rom recurring. Biomedicine and natural herbs, plants used by traditional healers can find means of interlinking the two through the technological processes where doctors could prescribe herbs in the future for those that do not want to use chemicals. The limitations of biomedicine are that over time you will experience negative side effects and symptoms from the medication prescribed.
Medical pluralism helps us understand that not only is biomedicine a solution, but traditional medicine can be an alternative for those that cannot afford medicine, have transport money etc. Traditional healers have a gift of being able to speak to the ancestors and by doing so they can identify which plant to use and diagnose the patient. Traditional healers have been around for centuries and for them assisting sick people or those with problems is a way of living.
Wreford J (2007). Myths, masks and stark realities: traditional African Healers, HIV/AIDS narratives and patterns of HIV/AIDS avoidance, CSSR Working Paper, forthcoming, Centre for Social Science Research: University of Cape Town.
The Republic of South Africa 1996 Constitution. The Republic of South Africa, the Traditional Health Practitioners Act, No. 22 of 2007
Levine, S. 2012. Testing knowledge: Legitimacy, healing and medicine in South Africa. In Medicine and the Politics of Knowledge, S. Levine, (ed.) 55 – 78. Cape Town Levine: HSRC Press. T
Xaba, T. 1998. A disenchanted modernity. The accommodation of African Medicine in contemporary South Africa. In Silva, T.C.M. and Sitas, A. (eds) Gathering Voices: Perspectives on the Social Sciences in Southern Africa, a publication of the International Sociological Association Levine, S. (ed). Medicine and the politics of knowledge. Cape Town: HSRC Press