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Healers in Limpopo Province, South Africa
This post is regarding Traditional Healers in South Africa. I will discuss how South Africans belief in traditional healers impacts the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Most of these areas in South Africa are rural and under resourced. These traditional health practitioners make up the only health care in these areas.
According to Dr. Green writer in the journal of alternative and complimentary medicine,”There is a wealth of published reports on
contributing factors which are thought to motivate and influence patient to seek services of a THPs. These include traditional beliefs, presenting symptoms, perceived source of the illness, social acceptability, easy access, low cost, confidence in THPs, as well as the perceived fit of a THPs’ explanation of illness with expectations of the local culture, and or failed treatment from allopathic health practitioners.” (AHPs) (2)
These traditional beliefs being a motivator for people using healers instead of western medicine is an example of how family identity in the form of traditions impact the HIV/AIDS epidemic. If these people got treated with western medicine or saw a western medicine practicing doctor their HIV could be diagnosed faster, symptoms controlled and the disease wouldn’t spread as quickly.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Nemutandani, a researcher at the university of South Africa, “Nearly one third (22.9%) associated HIV/AIDS diseases with witchcraft and evil powers. Many THPs indicated that HIV /AIDS patients (41.9%) and TB patients
(48.3%) could be cured. (126) If 48.3% of people in this village think they can be cured, and if 34.6% think that their ancestors can protect them from HIV/AIDS then what is to stop them from spreading it from person to person? These people don’t understand the severity of this disease and the beliefs and traditions they grew up with are validating their ignorance, which can be dangerous. For example “approximately 80% of the patients consult THPs on daily basis, and South Africa has a very high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and TB” (Nemutandani 131)
Next Page: Beliefs and HIV/AIDS(a look at America)