Traditional medicine as an alternative form of health care system: a preliminary case study of Nangabo sub-county, central Uganda

Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2009 Oct 15;7(1):11-6. doi: 10.4314/ajtcam.v7i1.57224.


This study was conducted in Nangabo sub-county of Wakiso district. The purpose was to document the common Traditional Medicine (TM) practices; assess the local people's preferences for TM versus western medicine (WM) and lastly to determine the awareness about the importance of TM by local people. Data were collected using semi-structured administered face-to-face with respondents. A total of 120 interviewed. Six focused group discussions (FGDs) were held to validate the questionnaire responses. Data were analyzed descriptively using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The findings indicated that most (43%) respondents derive their livelihoods from traditional medicine practices. Three forms of TM were reported-herbalism (67%), spiritual counseling (23%) and bone setting (10%). Although the majority (81%) of respondents were quite aware of the importance of TM in the sustenance of health care system, majority (55%) of them shunned TM in preference to WM, largely because of the belief that TM is evil-founded and devilish in nature. Only 45% of the respondents preferred TM to WM. The main reasons given for visiting TM practioners rather than western medical practitioners were that TM is sometimes more effective than WM and that in many instances it has very minimal side effects on the human body. There is, however, a need for Ugandan government to legitimize the practice of TM since it contributes a lot to health care needs in areas where western medicine is insufficiently provided. In addition, there is a need for further research into the efficacy and safety of traditional medicines if it is to be adequately integrated into western medicine.

Keywords: Traditional medicine; Uganda; bone setting; health care; herbalism; spiritual counseling.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Geography
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Medicine, African Traditional / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spiritual Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uganda
  • Young Adult