Complementary and Alternative Medicines: Towards a Holistic Healthcare System in Africa

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 32 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Alex ASAKITIKPI, Department of Socioogy, Monash South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
This paper responds to two key issues: the concept of CAM in the context of Africa’s and global value systems that imposes a form of health practice as a dominant (and therefore mainstream) healthcare system and other forms as alternative to it; and second, the place of CAM in Africa’s health policies. Within the context of Africa’s health system, the conceptualization of indigenous medical knowledge and its value in relation to its history, practices, traditions, and cosmology as CAM, undermines the heritage of a people and denies the multiple realities of a polyvocal world. Any society that was populated with healthy people before modernity set in, illuminates its possession of an effective medical knowledge and a responsive healthcare system.  The dismal health indicators of contemporary sub-Sahara Africa speaks to the challenges inherent in its health policies that undermine the reservoir of indigenous medical knowledge and systems. Using case studies of different forms of endogenous health practices, this paper discusses the potential benefits and constraints associated with indigenous medical knowledge and practices in Africa.