oa South African Family Practice - Traditional values in modern practice : forum

Volume 53, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



In South Africa's multicultural and multiethnic population, many people consult with traditional health practitioners in order to receive treatment for a variety of problems. However, the semantics around the term "traditional health practitioner" need to be explored. This is because it is argued that allopathic health practitioners are also often traditional health practitioners, not with regard to the health care that they dispense, but in the way in which they engage with their clients. Traditional values of respect for the person, compassion and empathy are, and should be, routinely included in interactions with clients. This introduces a "traditional" character to "modern" interventions. This paper proposes that traditional healing terminology is not only limited to "traditional health practitioners," but also extends to "modern health practitioners," and that traditional medicine should not be supercilious in the way it considers itself to be more humane than allopathic medicine.

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