A Legal Perspective on African Traditional Medicine in South Africa
Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa, 43 (3) 273-291, 2010
19 Pages Posted: 25 May 2014
Date Written: July 24, 2010
In this article, the regulation of African Traditional Medicine (ATM) is considered in terms of the law and the national health system of South Africa, and with specific reference to HIV/AIDS. The level of recognition that ATM enjoys in the legal and healthcare systems at present is discussed and juxtaposed against the regulation of traditional medical practices in other African countries. The light in which these practises are viewed by indigenous peoples is also considered. The legal perspective(s) highlighted are analysed against the background of African governments´ strategies to promote and preserve indigenous knowledge. Reference will consequently be made to the South African government´s efforts to preserve (and promote) indigenous knowledge in the context of traditional medicine. A secondary theme is the existing competing discourses on HIV/AIDS and ATM in sub-Saharan Africa – ie how HIV/AIDS and ATM are generally perceived. It will be shown that specific discourses and perceptions hinder a true realisation of health rights for those infected with HIV/AIDS and also bar the full recognition and regulation of ATM practices. I argue for greater recognition for and regulation of ATM in South Africa’s legal and national health systems especially when considering the potential positive impact of ATM therapeutic properties in the context of HIV/AIDS.
Keywords: African Traditional Medicine, Medical Pluralism, Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Medicines, Health Systems, South Africa
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