Why patients go the traditional healers
Katz, S. H.
Kimani, Violet N.
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Even in cines where western medicine is accessible and available patients consult traditional medical practitioners (waganga), often postponing or dis¬continuing medical treatment to do so (1,2). A large measure of the tradi¬tional healers' popularity is attributable to the personal attention that they give their clients. A composite description of such a patient, her history, reasons and experiences is given. Sensitivity to patients' ideas about modern health care, traditional beliefs and the illness experience can enhance patients' compliance with prescribed regimens. An urban patient who consults a traditional medical practitioner (mganga) for the first time mayor may not know what to expect. He or she may have heard stories of cures following ritual ceremonies and of potent herbal remedies or may remember having been taken for such treatment as a child. On the other hand, if the patient comes from a strong Christian background, great care may have been taken to shield the growing children from all contact with and knowledge of beliefs and practices considered dangerous and wicked. The decision to consult a traditional practitioner is not made lightly. Almost all patients, when confronted with a medical problem which appears beyond the scope of home remedies, first seek western medical help when it is available. In the cities, this means that most patients found in a mganga's clinic have already been treated in modern dispensaries, hospitals or doctors' offices for the presenting complaint or for a similar complaint in the past. It also means that these patients were not satisfied with the care given or the results obtained, and are willing to pay for relief and a satisfactory and satisfyiqg solution to their problems. It is false to assume that traditional medicine is cheaper than scientific medicine. In cities where the government sponsored medical services are free, or the charge is minimal, traditional medical practitioners always charge, some stating that the medicine will not work unless paid for.