Traditional healers want to be able to issue sick notes

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Traditional healers in the Eastern Cape have appealed to the national Health Department to create a document that will serve as an equivalent to a sick note for their patients. A Daily Dispatch report quotes traditional healer Dumisa Diko as saying it was a known fact that many people, especially in rural areas, still preferred herbal remedies for their ailments.

“We need some kind of document or form that we can sign to say this is what we have picked up from this patient and maybe another form that we can sign to refer someone for admission to hospital if there is such a need,” said Diko.

The report says he was speaking during a dialogue with health professionals, among them Dr Thobile Mbengashe, the superintendent general of the Eastern Cape Health Department. The dialogue sought to set up a partnership between the department and traditional healers.

Acting MEC Fezeka Bayeni said there was a high level of herbal intoxication which contributed to premature births, paediatric mortalities and malnutrition of infant babies. “We have also learnt that a number of people in this area still believe in the use of traditional medicine. This partnership will allow us to work together with the traditional healers to develop guidelines to introduce dosages and measures of how to use the herbal remedies so that they do not contradict modern medicine or drugs used in hospitals or clinics,” said Bayeni.

She said the partnership would see doctors and traditional healers referring patients to each other if one form of healing – traditional or modern – was not effective.

Diko said patients who used traditional medicine had to make sure that the concoction was made on that day because these remedies also expired which was dangerous, even fatal. “Both modern and traditional medicine can be effective. It just depends on the patient’s sickness,” said Diko, adding that traditional healers where not against modern medicine.

Daily Dispatch report

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