Core competencies acquired in indigenous training of traditional health practitioners in Kwazulu-Natal

Afr Health Sci. 2019 Dec;19(4):3100-3106. doi: 10.4314/ahs.v19i4.32.


Introduction: Despite the recognition of Traditional Medicine systems as a critical component of health care by the WHO and the African Union, its integration into the health care mainstream remains very subdued in South Africa. This is partly due to the lack of empirical data pertinent to traditional healer training that could inform the accreditation process.

Objective: To determine core competencies acquired by Traditional Health Practitioners (THP) of KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa during their apprenticeship.

Materials and methods: Purposeful, convenient and snowballing sampling and the sequential data collection methods of questionnaires, journaling and focus groups was used to collect data from the THP tutors and their trainees in rural, peri-urban and urban areas of eThekwini and uThungulu Districts of Kwa Zulu Natal (KZN).

Results: Eleven core competencies were identified: consultation, diagnoses, holistic patient care and treatment, integrative and holistic healing, application of healing procedures and cultural rituals, spiritual development, ethical competencies, problem solving, herbalism, ancestral knowledge and end of life care.

Conclusion: The apprenticeship of THPs in KZN is based on eleven core competencies. These competencies are fundamental pillars for critical health care provided by THPs and are crucial for setting standards for the accreditation of traditional training in South Africa if the THP Act 22 of 2007 is to achieve its purpose of providing for the management of and control over the registration, training and conduct of the practitioners. Hence, the appointed interim THP Council should include the identified competencies when articulating bases for accreditation of the training and assessments.

Keywords: Indigenous training; Kwazulu-Natal; traditional health practitioners.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Personnel / standards*
  • Health Services, Indigenous / standards*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine, African Traditional / standards*
  • Middle Aged
  • Professional Competence*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • South Africa
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data