Conceptualisation of illness in traditional healing and Western allopathic medicine: a review

Maboe Mokgobi, A C Van Dyk

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    The traditional African healing system conceptualises some illnesses differently from the Western healing system. This review discusses how the traditional healing model and the Western medical model deal with the etiology and conceptualisation of illness. Much emphasis is placed on traditional healing as this system often goes beyond the scientific germ theory in its conceptualisation of illness. Conceptualisation of illness outside the realm of the scientific germ theory is complex and difficult to understand, hence much spotlight in the current review is on traditional healing. In traditional healing, the literature indicates that many illnesses have been attributed largely to witchcraft and the wrath of the ancestors. In addition, nonobservance of taboos and states of pollution have also been seen as contributors to ill-health. Notwithstanding the differences between the two healing models in terms of their conceptualisation of illnesses, the two could learn from each other in the areas of diagnostics, treatment, medicinal plant extracts and indigenous knowledge systems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)58 - 68
    Number of pages11
    JournalAfrican Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance
    Issue numberSupplement 1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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