Traditional Health Care Practices in Africa Essay

Traditional Health Care Practices in Africa Essay

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Traditional healing refers to a set of practices passed down through generations which intend to cure and prevent disease. In short, traditional medicine is the practice of health care based on traditional philosophy and the use of traditional medicine. In Africa, it presents as a holistic health care strategy which relies on an accumulation of knowledge of herbs and remedies which include plants, insects, and parts of animals. Traditional African healing is intertwined with traditional religions and spirituality. In Africa, traditional healing is administered by two different types of practitioners: sangoma (also called ngoma)—spiritual healers and diviners— and inyanga—herbalists. Although Africa is a continent of diverse cultures and tribes, traditional healers such as these exist across continent, providing 80% of the care for the population. From this information, it is evident that traditional healing is a important practice in the experience of a modern African.
Inyanga and sangoma perform different functions, treating different types of ailments. Inyanga are usually consulted for problems that are a result of a natural misfortune, such as routine illness or injury. They will treat the ailment with a traditional remedy made from medicinal herbs or mixtures of animal parts. Although anyone who wishes to, may become and inyanga, approximately 90% are male. Generally, a man wishing to become an inyanga will apprentice himself to a practicing inyanga before opening his own shop. An inyanga may also provide preventative medicines as well as remedies meant to bring about good luck.
Sangoma, on the other hand, treat the spiritual. When an unknown problem occurs, a sangoma is consulted to divine the source. Unlike inyanga, in or...


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...journal 74, no. 8, 2007.

Kale, Rajendra. "Traditional healers in South Africa: A parallel healthcare system," British Medical Journal, International edition. 310, no. 6988, 1995.

Nelms, Linda W and Gorski, June. "The Role of the African Traditional Healer in Women's Health,” Journal of Transcultural Nursing : Official Journal of the Transcultural Nursing Society / Transcultural Nursing Society. 17, 2006.

Hall, James. Sangoma: my odyssey into the spirit world of Africa New York: Putnam, 1994.

Berends, Willem. "African Traditional Healing Practices and the Christian Community," Missiology 21, no. 3, 1993.

Janzen, John M. "Self-Presentation and Common Cultural Structures in Ngoma Rituals of Southern Africa," Journal of Religion in Africa. 25, 1995.

McCord, Margaret. The Calling of Katie Makanya: a memoir of South Africa. Cape Town: David Philip Publishers, 1995.

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