Traditional healers need recognition during Covid-19 pandemic

25 March 2020 - 07:25 By ERNEST MABUZA
Traditional healers support the lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, but feel they have been disregarded as health-care providers.
Traditional healers support the lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, but feel they have been disregarded as health-care providers.
Image: 123RF/Jarun Ontakrai

Traditional health practitioners and healers say they have been disregarded as health care providers in the implementation of a national lockdown in response to Covid-19.

The sector said provisions announced by government were unclear on the mobilisation and movement of those who sought traditional medicine.

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“There is an urgent need for clarity. Traditional medicine has proven to be effective against ailments and overlooking it is simply an infringement of the right to access to traditional health care and the right to cultural and traditional practice,” National Unitary Professional Association for African Traditional Health Practitioners of SA general secretary Solly Nduku said in a statement.

Nduku said when communities needed help, they approached traditional health practitioners and spiritual healers for assistance.

Nduku said it was not clear to what extent traditional health practitioners will operate and what message they should be sharing with their communities about Covid-19.

He said his organisation was advising traditional leaders to postpone rituals, ceremonies and spiritual gatherings during this period.

The traditional health practitioner sector was appealing to government to formally recognise these practitioners and health care workers during the pandemic, he said.

As of March 13 2020, the coronavirus had infected more than 130,000 people and killed more than 4,700 worldwide. The symptoms of Covid-19 can be similar to those of the common cold or flu. Symptoms that warrant further testing include shortness of breath, a high persistent fever, and being unable to eat or drink.


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