Willingness and rationale of traditional health practitioners to collaborate with Allopathic doctors in the eThekwini Metro of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa
In countries with limited access to allopathic medicine, the main source of health care is traditional medicine (TM). For centuries, traditional African healing has played an important role in the health care system in South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent. Nearly 80% of the South African population rely on Traditional Health Practitioners (THPs) for their primary health care needs. In 2000, the WHO Regional Committee for Africa adopted a resolution on Promoting the Role of TM in Health Systems. In South Africa the Traditional Health Practitioners’ Act of 2007 was passed to regulate the profession of traditional practitioners. The purpose of the study was to determine willingness of traditional health practitioners to collaborate and integrate into National Health Care System (NHCS) in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. A cross sectional survey was conducted in the eThekwini Metropolitan Health District and surrounding areas of KZN, South Africa with a sample of 171 THPs using semi- structured interviews. Their ages ranged from 46 to 55 years old. The majority (56.7 %) were males, and 34.5 % of them had formal education. Seventy-six percent (130/171) of THPs reported willingness to collaborate with allopathic medical practitioners, while 83.6 % thought that western medical practitioners and THPs could work together; 81.3 % perceived that collaboration between allopathic medical practitioners and THPs would be beneficial for patients; and 87.1 % of them indicated a willingness to learn some aspects of allopathic medicine. The willingness of THPs to collaborate with allopathic medical practitioners and to learn from allopathic medical practitioners is suggestive of positive attitude needed to foster the integration of THPs into the mainstream health care sector.