CONFLICTING VIEWS ABOUT TRADITIONAL AND WESTERN MEDICINE
By: Nompakamo Dzanibe
Most South Africans actively use traditional medicine to heal or better yet to “cleanse” themselves.
We grew up in a time where our grandparents did not seek help from the doctors, but natural herbs. Times have now changed due to doubts and debates around the effectiveness of traditional medicine, even though it was, and still is trusted by many.
In a society such as South Africa, we have numerous cultures.
These cultures have their own beliefs, which work for many.
Every time the issue of traditional medicine and western medicine is brought up, it leaves bitter words among some. People debate non-stop about the effectiveness of both these medicines.
Traditional medicine incorporates all forms of herbal, spiritual and holistic healing methods, while western medicine is all chemically lab-tested medications.
Before South Africa was colonized by the British, the use of traditional medication was the only form of medication available, and it worked for the people during that.
According to Beatrice Zulu (78), western medication has brought nothing but disaster in South Africa.
“I’ve never been to a doctor and I don’t think I will ever go to a doctor.
I am a very traditional person. I have used traditional medicine all my life.
My father was a traditional healer and people were healed immediately when they came to him for help.
For me, traditional medicine is the only way,” she explained.
According to Joan Natl from medical association, western medicine has been used and it has cured many illnesses, and traditional medication is used for more holistic healing experience.
The problem starts when people with HIV and AIDS refuse to take treatment and use traditional medication instead of ARVs which stabilizes the disease.
“I personally prefer western medication because it has been tested and proved to be effective,” said Noluthando Fenya (21), a law student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Some people see traditional healers as their only option to meet their healthcare needs.
Some even refuse surgery or other medical treatment unless their traditional healers sanctions the treatment first. Formally trained doctors have finally began to consider traditional healers as
potential allies in the battle to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The benefit of combining the two can be great; you can use western medicine for immediate relief of symptoms and then combine traditional methods for more holistic healing
experience. This can be effective when combined. Zwelithini Gebashe, who lives in KwaMashu, agrees.
“I use both traditional and western medication. I grew up in a household where we were using traditional medication. The western medication has though made life easier, and you
are sure of quickly recover. I only use traditional medication to cleanse myself from evil spirits,” Gebashe explained.