Perspectives of health workers on traditional medicine Integration into conventional medicine in selected Health facilities in Zimba district

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Hamanyanga, Namuyaba
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University of Zambia
Over the years, many researchers have tried to address how to integrate traditional medicine with investment expropriation. While some countries have well managed to combine both Traditional Medicine (TM) and Conventional Medicine (CM) others have not. In many African, South American and Asian countries, TM is used in parallel with conventional medicine but this often comes with considerable difficulties. This is particularly true for what may be considered indigenous diseases that may not easily relate to a conventional diagnosis and poses issues regarding patient centred communication. With this situation at hand some integration between the two systems needs to be encouraged and further, this is because the practice of traditional medicine in Zambia is probably on the increase in spite of the great advances in orthodox medicine. This study aimed at studying the perspectives of health care providers on the integration of traditional medicine with conventional medicine. This was done by exploring attitudes towards integration of TM and CM, assessing the perceived benefits and risks of TM and by understating the motive behind referring patients to traditional healers. The study employed a case study design and was conducted in Zimba district in Southern province of Zambia and targeted health workers among them nurses, doctors, clinical officers and community health assistants. The study sample was 20 key informants purposely selected. Purposive sampling was also used to select six health facilities out of 11 found in Zimba. Content analysis was used for data analysis. Firstly, the data was transcribed manually and themes were identified upon which content analysis was based. Further some background data such as age, sex, occupation, beliefs of respondents in witchcraft etc. was entered and analysed using SPSS version 22 and presented in form of descriptive statistics. In terms of background characteristics, the study found that majority of the respondents were male (60%), and in the age bracket of 25-36 (50%) and majority were community health assistants (45%). The study also found that majority of respondents (75%) believed that some illnesses were caused by supernatural powers such as witchcraft. Further, the study found that majority of respondents believed that TM has power to cure certain illnesses such as epilepsy, STIs etc. Furthermore, the study established that majority of health workers support the integration of TM and CM with those against integration being in the minority. Additionally, the study established that majority of health workers interviewed were comfortable to refer a patient to try TM if CM fails. The study found that TM use was characterized by uncertainties in terms of its benefits and risks. Health workers support its integration. The study therefore recommends that government must come up with a policy to support the integration of TM with CM. Keywords: Integration, Tradition medicine, Convention medicine, Healthcare providers
Traditional medicine--Zambia , Conventional Medicine--Zambia