African traditional medicine day recognises deep-rooted practices

In a vibrant celebration of cultural heritage and healing wisdom, African Traditional Medicine Day is observed across the continent. This special day is about honoring the old and wise ways of healing and caring for health that have been practiced in Africa for a very long time. It’s a time to appreciate the methods that have been vital to African communities for generations.

African Traditional Medicine Day serves as a reminder of the deep-rooted connection between communities and the natural world around them. Passed down through generations, traditional medicine is a testament to the accumulated knowledge of ancestors who sought remedies from the abundant resources found in their surroundings.

According to the South African Government, African traditional medicine is a complete approach that combines native herbal knowledge with elements of African spiritual beliefs3.

The World Health Organisation defines traditional medicine as “the sum total of the knowledge, skill, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness4.

Around 80% of Africa’s people depend on traditional medicine to meet their essential health requirements, while around 60% of people worldwide practice it2. This substantial reliance on traditional medicine within Africa indicates its important role in providing healthcare services, especially in areas where conventional medical resources may be limited.

Because traditional medicine is affordable and easily accessible, it can easily become the sole healthcare option for some people. In that 80%, people seek first from traditional healers and later from a healthcare facility, and they don’t often disclose that they started at a traditional healer.

Since traditional healers live among their communities, they have close relationships with them, which makes them more reliable and convenient for their communities1.

As the world witnesses the transformation of healthcare, the integration of traditional and modern medicine stands as a testament to human adaptability and innovation. By blending ancient wisdom with modern science, the medical community is forging a path towards a new era of healthcare that is truly patient-centered, holistic, and culturally inclusive.