Repository logo

Traditional healers' perceptions of the integration of their practices. into the South African national health system.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This study was aimed at identifying and exploring the perceptions of traditional healers particularly izangoma and izinyanga, on the integration of their practices into the South African National Health System. The main reason behind this research was to establish the position of traditional healers as well as to study their opinions on the issue of integration. The paucity of previous research studies on the 'perceptions of traditional healers on the integration of their practice-s into the national health care system, was the main motivation behind this study. Participants were drawn from the Pietermaritzburg area and selection was based on purposeful sampling. The data of the study was collected by means of semi-structured interviews, which employed open- ended questions. This study was conceptualized within the African world-view and cosmology. The interactive model design by Maxwell (1996) was employed in the design of this study. According to this model the purpose, conceptual context, research questions and methods as well as issues of validity and reliability, are all essential for the coherence of any qualitative study. The ethical considerations of this study were mainly around the issue of informed consent, and this was negotiated and discussed with the participants until they could understand the process of consent. The results of the study reflect the fact that traditional healers are positive about the process of integration. However, the participants were in favol of integration as a process of collaboration and co-operation as opposed to total integration, which was perceived as a process in which one system w0ll-Id dominate and oppress the other. The participants in this study perceive themselves as equal to their western counterparts because oftheir training and ability to treat "spiritual illnesses". Further, they view their role as that of providing alternative healing as well as acting as a medium between people and their ancestors. Education and negotiations were identified as the possible solutions to most problems in the process of integration. The findings of this study further reveal that there is mistrust and suspicion about western healers form traditional healers. As a result of this, improved collaboration between traditional and modem health care systems seems to be the only process, which could benefit all the people of the country.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2000.


Traditional medicine--South Africa., Healers--South Africa., Medical policy--South Africa., Theses--Psychology.