We, the traditional healers of this country representing the following associations : Traditional Healers Organisation, Tshwane Healers Forum, Dingaka Healers Association, Nyangazezizwe Traditional Healers Organisation, African Traditional Health Practitioners’ Union in partnership with Patients from around the country formally register our dissatisfaction and unhappiness in the manner in which the government and in particular, the Ministry of Health under the leadership of the Honourable Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi treat traditional healers.
Our move has been motivated by lack of response from government to address our concerns as traditional healers. The attitude and behaviour we have received from government since our attempt to engage with them is left us no choice but to take this action.
Today, we demand answers. We have resorted to this action after numerous attempts to engage the Department of Health and other structures fell on deaf ears.
We want to know when traditional healers and patients will see and feel being part of a democratic South Africa which we all fought hard for and defended. We demand that government start taking issues pertaining to traditional healing seriously and consult with us on a regular basis. We demand to see this commitment in simple written language 14 days after this action.
We believe the government should be supportive and demonstrate respect for all health professions including traditional health care. Minister of health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi and his department has shown little if not total disrespect for healers and the more than 70% of people who utilise traditional medicine.
Programmes on traditional and complimentary medicine seem not to enjoy equal pride of space within the Ministry and this has been our main concern for a long time. We resolved at our National Conference held in Johannesburg in February this year that there was a need to put pressure on government in order for her to review her position in this matter. Healers feel humiliated, let down and insulted by the Health Ministry’s approach to our needs.
This behaviour perpetuates the stereotype that healers are equal to witches and therefore not deserving respect and cannot be treated with dignity.
We would like to draw your attention to the following demands from healers from all the nine provinces:
- We want Government to implement the THP Act regulations. This include the formation of the Council, recognition of sick-notes from traditional health practitioners, medical aid pay out to traditional healers ,formal registration of healers in the country, funding and protection of research on traditional medicines
- Establishment of a Ministry and Department of Traditional and Complimentary medicine
- Review of the Witchcraft Suppression Act of 1957 which categorises every “spiritual person as “satanic or practising witchcraft”
- Inclusion of Traditional Medicine into the National Health Insurance
- To accredit traditional healers as formal co-researchers to prevent exploitation by western researchers hence we call for the promulgation of the Draft African Traditional Medicine policy
- Institutionalise Traditional Medicine at all levels of government
- Government to act on corrupt officials who use budget allocated for traditional healers training and developmental programmes for personal gain
- We demand participation in genuine democratic processes of consultation and citizenship
- Open access to comprehensive information on all forms of treatment
- Major healers associations should be well supported and consulted by relevant departments and government before major health decisions are taken
- Government to develop policies and laws that promote partnership in traditional medicine research and development with the private sector as part of its BEE strategy (Pharmaceutical industry)
- Improvement of traditional health care standards through training and development
- Traditional Medicine should be mainstreamed in all government departments including the office of the Presidency
- Develop relevant policies and laws that promote and protect traditional medicines