Original Research

Integrating traditional and allopathic child health: A healthcare transformation opportunity

Eugene M. Makhavhu
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 29 | a2501 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v29i0.2501 | © 2024 Eugene M. Makhavhu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 August 2023 | Published: 24 April 2024

About the author(s)

Eugene M. Makhavhu, Department of Nursing Sciences, School of Healthcare Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Tshwane, South Africa


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.


allopathic healthcare; child health; integration; traditional healthcare; healthcare transformation.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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