True ownership of traditional medicines in South Africa
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Background: Literature postulates that traditional medicines form an important part of modern-day South African healthcare. The belief is that the traditional healer and traditional medicine is a close-knit unit, with the traditional healer as the true owner and manufacturer of traditional medicines. Various studies also postulate that the growth and development of South African traditional medicines are restricted by the pharmaceutical industries and other role players like the medical fraternity. Aims: The present study aimed to determine who holds the true ownership of traditional medicines in South Africa. Methods: This is an exploratory and descriptive study that makes use of an historical approach by means of investigation and a literature review. The emphasis is on using current documentation like articles, books and newspapers as primary sources to reflect on the thinking and opinion on the true ownership of traditional medicines in South Africa. The findings are offered in narrative form. Results: Many more role players are active in today's traditional medicines manufacturing industry than merely the traditional healer and the traditional fraternity. The literature on traditional medicines fails to show the public the true meaning of traditional medicine in modern-day South Africa and to whom it really belongs. An in-depth analysis and understanding of the Regulations of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act (Act No 22, 2007), and of the definitions traditional philosophy and traditional medicines as reflected by the Act are totally missing from the literature. Such an investigation will aid in uncovering the true ownership of traditional medicines. Conclusion: There is a clear differentiation between the dominant (real) traditional medicines and the inferior pre-modern traditional products of the traditional healer. The title deed or card and transport of traditional medicine are held by various public and private institutions and other entities, not exclusively by the traditional healer fraternity.
- Faculty of Humanities