An analysis of methods used by African Traditional Health practitioners to treat oral health conditions in Johannesburg, Gauteng.
Modisha, Mangoedi Kinder Ingridh.
Muslim, Tufayl Ahmed.
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Background African traditional medicine is widely used in South Africa. African traditional health practitioners treat patients who present with a variety of medical conditions, including oral health conditions. The aim of this study was to determine the knowledge, and practices of African traditional health practitioners regarding oral health conditions. Materials and Methods A cross-sectional survey of 11 African traditional health practitioners who consented to be interviewed in the Johannesburg area was recruited to participate in a structured questionnaire survey, followed by focus group interviews with 10 practitioners. Ethical approval was obtained from the Biomedical Research Ethics Committee (BREC ref. no 451/19). Following the collection of data from the questionnaire administration, a focus group interview was conducted. Data on the knowledge, treatment practices, and post-treatment management of four common oral conditions was collected and analysed. Results Eleven participants who consented to be interviewed, their average age was 44.1 (±8.1) years, with a range of 21-67 years, and a slight majority of female (55.5%, n=6). Ten further participants took part in focus group interviews. African traditional health practitioners were asked a series of questions, in non-dental terminology or language, related to their knowledge (causes); practise (what do you use to treat?, What advise do you give to the patient?); of four common oral health conditions. These are: sores on the lips, sores on the tongue, swollen gums and toothache. Participants reported using a variety of practices such as throwing bones, burning incense, using plants and animal product, as well as commercially manufactured products to treat and manage patients. Conclusion The results of the study reveal that there are vast differences in knowledge, management practices and treatment modalities of African traditional healthcare practitioners. Further research in the knowledge, practises and treatment of oral healthcare practitioners needs to be conducted. Mutual cooperation, collaboration and integrating African traditional health practitioners into primary oral healthcare services need to be urgently prioritised.