The education and training levels of the South African traditional healer: a present-day perspective
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Background:The traditional healer in Southern Africa received new status as a statutorily recognized health professional with the promulgation of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 (2007). Usually such recognition is only awarded after a profession's formal education in the form of established study programmes and training and places of learning has been confirmed. Lawmakers involved in the promulgation of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act No 22 failed to confirm the existence of such an education culture and foundation. Very little can be gauged from the formal literature on the kind and the quality of the training that the traditional healers receive and their abilities to diagnose and treat without risk to the lives of patients. The prominent question at this stage is whether traditional healers' levels of education and training meet the minimum requirements prescribed for health professionals in the healthcare sector. Aims: The present study aimed to determine the education and training levels of practicing South African traditional healers. Methods: This is an exploratory and descriptive study based on the modern historical approach of investigation and literature reviewing. The emphasis is on using present-day documentation, like articles and reports, books and newspapers, as primary sources to reflect on the present status and levels of traditional healers' education and training. The findings are offered in narrative form. Results: No formally established education and training infrastructure has ever been developed for the South African traditional healing profession. Up to 2007, there was also no governmental support in this regard. A formal education and training system is still in its infancy. There is, however, a well-established informal training system that developed over many years. Conclusion: The absence of an advanced and statutorily recognized education and training system can make the immediate change-over from traditional healing as an unregulated endeavour to a profession and acceptance of the traditional healer as part of the healthcare establishments, very difficult and problematic. Over against this, there is a functioning informal training system exists, confirming that minimum levels of education and training are present.
- Faculty of Humanities