Collaboration between African Indigenous and Biomedical Health Practitioners: Perceptions Regarding Tuberculosis Treatment
Keywords:collaboration, African indigenous health practitioners, biomedical health practitioners, tuberculosis, treatment, perceptions
Despite programmes developed to alleviate tuberculosis (TB) infection worldwide, South Africa is still reporting high rates of infection. Most South Africans believe in and consider using the medicine provided by African indigenous health practitioners (AIHPs) rather than consulting practitioners at modern health facilities. The isolated functioning of these two groups of practitioners motivated the government to establish the Traditional Health Practitioners Act (22 of 2007), to encourage AIHPs and biomedical health practitioners (BHPs) to collaborate on the healing of different diseases, including TB. The Mpumalanga province has been hit the hardest by TB and has a high infection rate. The study aimed at exploring and describing the perceptions of AIHPs and BHPs on collaboration concerning TB treatment in the Ehlanzeni district, Mpumalanga. A semi-structured interview guide was used to collect data from focus groups with 21 AIHPs and in-depth individual interviews with 10 BHPs. The findings of the study reveal differing perceptions, as some BHPs accept the Act and acknowledge collaboration, while others have concerns about standards of care, patient safety, and overdosing. They are reluctant to accept integration, as they see AIHPs as unscientific practitioners who use strong medicine that is detrimental to patients. The AIHPs welcomed the idea of working together and mutual teaching with the aim of empowering each other with knowledge regarding the treatment of TB, for the ultimate benefit of patients.