19th July 2010
Summary and analysis of Traditional Health Practitioners Act (Act No. 22 of 2007)
It has been estimated that more than 80% of people in African use traditional medicine1. Whilst population-based studies in South Africa indicate a decline in the use of traditional healing2, the number of traditional health practitioners is quite substantial, totalling approximately 190,0003. Traditional health practitioners play an important part in the lives of a large part of the South African population. “The Traditional Health Practitioners Bill was drafted to address the issue that despite their importance as a health resource, traditional healers had no legal status in South Africa, and therefore, not officially recognised as health care personnel. In 1994, the only legislation that related indirectly to traditional healers was the Witchcraft Suppression Act (Act No.3 of 1957), which sought to outlaw the practice of traditional healing. Since the first democratic elections in 1994, traditional healers have been collaborating with government for the purpose of obtaining formal recognition for traditional health practitioners.”4
During 2006, an organisation called Doctors for Life International (DFL) applied to the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of a number of legislation, including the Traditional Health Practitioners Act (No. 35 of 2004). The Court declared the Act invalid, due to lack of sufficient public participation suspending the order of invalidity for a period of 18 months to allow Parliament to re-enact the statute in a manner consistent with the Constitution. On the 7th January 2008 the Traditional Health Practitioners was signed by the President. The Traditional Health Practitioners Act5 aims to:
Establish the Interim Health Practitioners Council of South Africa. Provide for a regulatory framework to ensure efficacy, safety and quality of traditional health care services. To provide for the management and control over the registration, training and conduct of practitioners, students and specified categories in the traditional health practitioners profession. To provide for matters connected therewith.
This paper provides a summary and analysis of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act:
Chapter 1: Definitions
Chapter 1 lists definitions used in the Act. It then describes the purpose of the Act, as described above, to:
1) Establish the Interim Health Practitioners Council of South Africa. 2) Provide for the registration, training and practises of traditional health practitioners. 3) Serve and protect the interests of members of the public who use the services of traditional health practitioners. This Act applies to both traditional health practitioners and students engaged in or learning traditional health practice.
Chapter 2: Es...