Integrating traditional and allopathic child health: A healthcare transformation opportunity

Eugene M. Makhavhu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Numerous forums both domestically and internationally have discussed integration of allopathic and traditional healthcare. In South Africa, using traditional child healthcare is popular practice. If properly controlled, integrating this aspect of traditional child-health with allopathic healthcare may be advantageous to communities that use both healthcare systems. Allopathic and traditional healthcare remain separate organisations in South Africa despite efforts and discussions to integrate them. Aim: The study sought to explore the integration of traditional and allopathic child healthcare from the perspectives of children’s caregivers and traditional healthcare practitioners. Setting: The study was conducted in a semi-urban area in the city of Tshwane. Methods: An exploratory qualitative research study was conducted using semi-structured interviews to collect data from 11 traditional healthcare practitioners and 15 children’s caregivers who were sampled using snowball and convenient sampling respectively. Results: The participants expressed their understanding of the usage of traditional healthcare practitioners in the care of children as well as their support for integration, and further indicated its necessity. Religion and its effects in health-seeking behaviour were cited as a factor in why there has not been greater integration between the two healthcare systems. Conclusion: The undocumented and undisclosed use of traditional healthcare potentially hinders the delivery of therapeutic healthcare. As such, integrating the two systems is essential to ensure patients’ safety. Contribution: This article highlights understanding of culture congruence and safe child healthcare that may be brought forward by the integration of the two healthcare systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera2501
JournalHealth SA Gesondheid
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • allopathic healthcare
  • child health
  • healthcare transformation
  • integration
  • traditional healthcare


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