n South African Medical Journal - Sick certificates issued by South African traditional health practitioners : current legislation, challenges and the way forward : issues in medicine : forum

Volume 102, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Traditional health practitioners (THPs) play a significant role in South African healthcare. However, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) does not consider sick notes issued by THPs to be valid. This creates a dilemma for employees, whose right to consult a practitioner of their choice is protected by the Constitution. We assessed the current legislation and highlight the challenges that employees face in selecting a healthcare system of their choice. The services of THPs represent an untapped capacity that can complement and strengthen healthcare services, especially in the workforce. The BCEA legislative technicality, coupled with the delayed establishment of the Interim THP Council, does not relieve the employer's burden of 'illegitimate' medical certificates issued by THPs. While seen as a dilemma for some employers, others have accommodated African cultural beliefs and accept THP-issued sick notes. Finalising the Interim THP Council will allow THP registration and oblige employers to honour sick notes issued by THPs. The empowerment of THPs to play a meaningful role in healthcare delivery is of national importance.

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