Community knowledge and perceptions towards the use of traditional and Western medical service systems in Coligny community in the North West Province, South Africa.
The research study used a qualitative approach to investigate community knowledge and perceptions towards the use of traditional and western medical service systems in the North West Province, with special reference to Coligny community. Qualitative research methods such as focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, direct and participatory observations, and questionnaires were utilized as the main methods for data collection. As such, the researcher was able to interact with traditional health practitioners, key lK holders, and the community at large. In consultation with the community leaders and using a stratified random sampling procedure a sample of 30 respondents (l O males and 20 females) was selected for the study. lt was composed of Traditional Health Practitioners (THPs) and other key Indigenous Knowledge (IK) holders. The study focused more on women THPs and key !K holders because they were the guardians of !KS with regard to the use of traditional medicine. They were knowledgeable about Traditional Medicine (fM) as health care providers to both their families and the community at large. Furthermore, the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the research participants were collected and interpreted from their own cultural perspectives. These have cultural meanings and significance in the context of traditional medicine and healing practices in the community. The study discovered that majority of the research participants m the study community depended TM for health care. The study also found out that the women THPs and IK holders had wide knowledge of TM pertaining to harvesting and processing of TM materials to ensure sustainable biodiversity of the medicinal plant species. The study community was characterised by limited modern medical and health care services. The study revealed that even though the community benefited from western medicine, it had a lot to offer in terms of knowledge of TM for public health care. This knowledge was mostly held by women, It needs to be documented to inform policy, ensure accessibility, and be shared with young generations for sustainability.