We all have heard it many times: 80% of black South Africans consult a sangoma before they even consider going to a Western Clinic. I always wondered about it, having worked with sangomas and being involved with the work HOPE Cape Town has done and is still doing in parts with traditional leaders. What I have seen is little work for sangomas, lots of part-time traditional healers and a break down in related traditions in the townships of Cape Town. Well, a 2012 article in the South African Medical Journal went further, suggesting that “some 80% of South Africans use traditional medicine to meet their primary healthcare needs”. The claim has also been made in general terms about the population of Southern Africa and the African continent. So where did the claim originate and is there any truth to it? GroundUp, a South African community journalism project, asked Africa Check to investigate. Their starting point was the World Health Organisation (WHO). A fact sheet on traditional medicine published by the body in 2008 is often cited when the claim is made. “In some Asian and African countries,” it states, “80% of the population depend on traditional medicine for primary health care.” The fact sheet does not include any evidence to substantiate the statement, but one can find a reference to a document discussing the WHO’s Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002-2005. And this was not the end of the research – to read more about Africa Check’s research and its amazing result follow this link.
- South African Traditional Healers (peepsouth.wordpress.com)
- SA healthcare: Some are still more equal than others (dailymaverick.co.za)