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South Africa To Regulate 200 000 Plus Traditional Healers

There are more than 200 000 traditional healers across South African who play a significant role for people that follow African cultural be...

There are more than 200 000 traditional healers across South African who play a significant role for people that follow African cultural beliefs. 

Until recently, traditional healers have operated relatively freely from government interference, though many work under governing structures such as the Traditional Healers Organisation, which has more than 29,000 members.

In 2014, the Traditional Health Practitioners Act was passed to standardise and regulate the affairs of all traditional healers. 
Traditional Healers Have Worked Freely From Government Inteference 

Late last year additional regulations were published to give effect to the act. The government has invited public comment on the regulations.

Both the act and the proposed regulations have been criticised by some traditional healers who believe they are unrealistic and unworkable. The act has established an interim council to provide a regulatory framework. 

This allows for traditional healers to be registered and categorised according to their different healing specialities, including: a diviner (those who have a calling from ancestral spirits); a herbalist (someone practising herbalism); student (someone training to be a traditional healer), among others.

The proposed regulations would require all traditional healers to register before being able to practise. This means all traditional healers will have to apply to the council to be registered. 

They will also have to pay R200 for a practising certificate.
A Healer At Work 

This will only be issued if the registrar, who is appointed by the health minister after consulting with the council, is satisfied that they meet set requirements. 

There are several advantages to registering traditional healers. Aside from the government being able to exercise greater control over the quality of the profession, the public will also be protected from swindlers.

Although legislation is not always the best way to address problems, it might be the only way to provide protection to both the profession and its users.
Regulations need to be realistic

The regulations place several additional responsibilities on traditional healers, which could be costly and time-consuming.

As a start, the proposed regulations will require traditional healers to undergo education or training at an accredited training institution or educational authority. 

This is to ensure that the profession complies with universally accepted health care norms.
Traditional Medicine Market 

But the practicalities of how, when or where this training will take place remains indeterminate. This will be particularly challenging as there are currently no accredited training institutions.

A prospective trainer will have to register at a cost of R500. They would need to provide a list of their qualifications and details of the course modules, practical skill that would be acquired and duration. 

But the minimum skills or qualifications are not defined in the regulations.

One of the most bizarre requests is for trainers to produce copies of their teaching or learning materials. 
Traditional Healers Are Set To Be Trained 

This may have serious implications for intellectual property rights. The tutors or training institutions will also need to keep in mind that there are different categories of traditional healers that are recognised in terms of the Act. 

Each category has different training needs.

For students to be considered, they would need an Adult Basic Education Training certificate level 1. This amounts to basic numeracy and literacy skills. 

Diviners, herbalists and traditional birth attendants need to train for a minimum of one year while traditional surgeons need to train for at least five years. - The Conversation 

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