Ethical Considerations in African Traditional Medicine: A Report to Nyika
Like other so-called ‘parallel’ practices in medicine, traditional medicine
(TM) does not avoid criticism or even rejection. Nyika’s article
‘Ethical and Regulatory Issues Surrounding African Traditional Medicine
in the Context of HIV/AIDS’ looks at some of the issues from
a traditional Western ethical perspective and suggests that it should
be rejected. I respond to this article agreeing with Nyika’s three
major criticisms: lack of informed consent, confidentiality and paternalism.
However, as traditional healers are consulted by over 70%
of South Africans before any other type of healthcare professional,
a blanket negation of TM is not possible, nor is it politically feasible.
A pragmatic approach would be to work within the current structures
for positive change. I point out that, as all cultural practices
do, TM will change over time. Yet, until some regulations and
change occur, the problem of harm to patients remains a major