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Another delay in formal recognition of traditional healers

Traditional healers face a new delay in their long-running campaign to be formally recognised as health practitioners, says a Sunday Times report.

The Traditional Health Practitioners Act of 2004, which is meant to set up a statutory regulatory body for South Africa's 200,000-plus healers, is one of the "unconstitutional" laws the South African Law Reform Commission wants scrapped.

The report says the commission has identified 98 health laws for repeal, amendment or consolidation, arguing they are outdated, obsolete, contrary to current policies and practices, or have been amended so many times that they are confusing.

Formalisation would mean that healers would be issued with practice numbers and could claim from medical aids. But some say they would rather face a new delay than have the law imposed on them.

The Traditional Healers Organisation and the National Unitary Professional Association for Traditional Health Practitioners of SA also called for the scrapping of a subsequent 2007 law.

They are quoted in the report as saying that "Eurocentric legislation" was irrelevant to them because traditional healing dealt with cultural and spiritual ailments as well as physical problems. "It is a huge relief for us to hear of the potential repeal," said Thobeka Kentane, deputy general secretary of the unitary association.

"For years we've been questioning the formation of the council. Its regulations are just a copy and paste of the Nursing Council's regulations. Nursing is very different from traditional healing, which is a calling and intangible," she said.

According to the report, the commission said the 2004 Traditional Healers Act should have been repealed when it was replaced in 2007. But even the later act had problems, because some of its definitions refer to outdated laws.

Health department spokesperson Popo Maja said in the report that work was under way on a number of draft laws, but the legislative process and timelines depended on parliament.

[link url="–nyanga–recognition/"]Sunday Times report (subscription needed)[/link]

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