The importance of traditional midwives in the delivery of health care in the Republic of South Africa.Curationis. 1997 Mar; 20(1):15-20.C
From the data collected during qualitative research, in 1995, to determine the possibility of collaboration with traditional healers a number of themes were highlighted. The different types of traditional healers, the way in which they operate as well as the importance of collaboration was identified. In this article the contributions of traditional midwives in rendering health care, especially in the rural areas in the Northern Cape and the Free State will be discussed. The data was collected during interviews and observations, done over a period of seven months. When the respondents could not speak English or Afrikaans an interpreter was used. Interviews were also conducted with health care staff and patients. The contributions of the traditional midwives are of utmost importance and should not be discouraged. With the necessary training the traditional midwives could help in providing an effective and efficient health service to pregnant women. Traditional midwives have been an integral part of African medicine for centuries. This is not only because African people still love and fear the spirits, but also because a great number of the South African population do not have access to existing health services. This is especially so in the rural areas and informal settlements. According to the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) of the Government of National Unity it is important that everyone who could make a contribution towards the provision of health care should be involved. This view is supported in the ANC Health Plan and a Policy Document for the Development of a District Health System for South Africa, where it is stated that traditional healers (traditional midwives are included in this category) could play a role in the delivery of health care. The research on which the article is based was done to determine the role traditional healers could play in collaboration with primary health care services. In this article only the role of the traditional midwife will be discussed.