Original Research

Allopathic and traditional health practitioners’ collaboration

Dalena van Rooyen, Blanche Pretorius, Nomazwi M. Tembani, Wilma ten Ham
Curationis | Vol 38, No 2 | a1495 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v38i2.1495 | © 2015 Dalena van Rooyen, Blanche Pretorius, Nomazwi M. Tembani, Wilma ten Ham | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 March 2015 | Published: 23 July 2015

About the author(s)

Dalena van Rooyen, School of Clinical Care Sciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Blanche Pretorius, Director Research Capacity Development, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Nomazwi M. Tembani, Director Professional Nurses, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Wilma ten Ham, Department of Nursing, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Professional collaboration between traditional and allopathic health practitioners in South Africa is proposed in the Traditional Health Practitioners Act and could benefit and complement healthcare delivery.

Objectives: To explore and describe the collaborative relationship between allopathic and traditional health practitioners regarding the legalisation of traditional healing, and these health practitioners’ views of their collaborative and professional relationship, as role-players in the healthcare delivery landscape in South Africa.

Methods: A qualitative design was followed. The research population comprised 28 participants representing three groups: allopathic health practitioners (n = 10), traditionalhealers (n = 14), and traditional healers who are also allopathic health practitioners (n = 4). Purposive and snowball sampling was used. Data collection involved unstructured interviews, a focus group interview and modified participant observation.

Results: Results indicate both allopathic and traditional health practitioners experienced negative attitudes towards each other. Mutual understanding (in the form of changing attitudes and communication) was considered crucial to effective collaboration between these two health systems. Participants made suggestions regarding capacity building.

Conclusions: Considering realities of staff shortages and the disease burden in South Africa, facilitating collaboration between allopathic and traditional health practitioners is recommended. Recommendations could be used to develop strategies for facilitating professional collaboration between traditional and allopathic health practitioners in order to complement healthcare delivery.


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