Activists say pharmaceutical companies and other cultures are exploiting and maximizing their profits from the Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), while South Africans are increasingly unemployed.
The Traditional Healers Organisation (THO) and human rights formations marched to the Gauteng provincial legislature to submit their memorandum of demands, which was received by the speaker. Among the demands was the call for their inclusion in all planning and decision-making processes on health as well as an end to “medicine apartheid”, they want to be recognised as health practitioners who practise a recognised profession.
THO national spokesperson, Tshegofatso Mosala, says that there is a need to acknowledge or incorporate traditional pharmacies into local medicine centres. She further points out that IKS have been tested by reputable institution like the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and have been proven to be effective on various illnesses.
“We have spiritual and physical illnesses, some of which requires spiritual attention yet people flood to clinics,” said Mosala.
Political Analysis South Africa (PASA) spoke to Dr Gontse Gabanakgosi, who works in primary health care in the Johannesburg Metropolitan. He acceded that IKS should receive respect in the African setting, however, said that it is important to realise where we as a country and where we come from.
“We come from colonialism, a deliberate destruction of our culture and traditions and it is not that Africans do not believe in their historic system. Practicality is also important, western systems have created structures such as formalising education, accreditations and regulating the system,” says Dr Gabanakgosi
Mosala further added that, “Traditional Health Practitioners Act 22 of 2007 says we need to provide for the registrations, training and practices are preferably written contracts between training sangomas and initiates. All sangomas [traditional healers] should be registered with the THO.”
There have been previous efforts by THO national coordinator Phephisile Maseko, who is also a founder of Phepisa Natural Resource Institute, which manufactures traditional medicine. She says that IKS has existed for so many years and we must exploit this knowledge for our economic development.
The Office of Speaker in the Gauteng provincial legislature received the memorandum on the 19th of March 2019 and promised that the memorandum will be discussed by the legislature and the communication will thereafter be made to the demonstrators.
Mosala says all these efforts are in vain because the government keeps neglecting traditional healers.