African Traditional Medicine Day 2022

31 August

Commemoration of the African Traditional Medicine Day coincides with the date, 31 August 2000, on which the ministers of health adopted the relevant resolution at the 50th session of the World Health Organisation Regional Committee for Africa in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

Traditional African medicine is a holistic discipline involving the use of indigenous herbalism combined with aspects of African spirituality.

About 80% of Africa's population relies on traditional medicine for their basic health needs. In some cases traditional medicine is the only healthcare service available, accessible and affordable to many people on the continent. In this case the significant contribution of traditional medicine as a major provider of healthcare services in Africa cannot be underestimated.

The National Department of Health recognises that there is an entrenched historical bias towards Western/allopathic healthcare that has a long history.

The Government has committed itself to the involvement of traditional healers in official healthcare services. This includes the several types of traditional healthcare practitioners who can be broadly categorised as diviners, herbalists, faith healers and traditional birth attendants. These practitioners are separated by the methods that they use to diagnose and treat their patients. They also employ a number of different traditional formularies.

Traditional health practitioners (THPs) and traditional medicine are critical components of the healthcare discipline for millions of our people, especially in the rural areas. It is through regulated practice that a meaningful contribution of the THPs in Primary Healthcare activities would be enhanced and facilitated.

The Department of Health has taken steps towards the official recognition and institutionalisation of African traditional medicine by establishing a directorate of Traditional Medicine within the National Department of Health as well as enacting the Traditional Health Practitioners Act, 2007 (Act No 22 of 2007) which established the Interim Traditional Health Practitioners Council.

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