Department of Health
The primary goal of the interim traditional health practitioners council (ITHPC) which was inaugurated this week in terms of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act (2007) is to assist the health department to integrate traditional health medicine into the national health system.
This new council aims to protect and enhance the indigenous knowledge system in the field of medicine and to address public concerns over unscrupulous and bogus traditional medicine practitioners and practices.
The Traditional Health Practitioners Act (2007) specifically provides for:
• A regulatory framework to ensure efficacy, safety and quality of traditional health services.
• Treatment, and preventative measures in traditional medicines.
• Objectives, quality, universal norms and standards on traditional medicine.
The purpose of the council in terms of the act is to:
• Promote public health awareness.
• Ensure quality of health services within traditional health practices.
• Protect and serve the interests of members of the public who use or are affected by the services of traditional health practitioners.
• Promote and maintain appropriate ethical and professional standards required from traditional health practitioners.
• Promote and develop interest in traditional health practice by encouraging research, education and training.
• Promote contact between the various fields of training within traditional health and to set standards for such training.
• Compile and maintain a professional code of conduct for traditional health practice.
• Ensure that traditional health practice complies with universally accepted health care norms and values.
The mandate of the ITHPC is also drawn from the South African bill of rights and the National Health Act (2003).
The council has 20 members and is constituted by representatives of practitioners from all provinces including; a legal expert; a member of the health professions council of South Africa (a medical practioner); a member of the SA pharmacy council (a pharmacist); community representatives; diviners; herbalists; traditional birth attendants; traditional surgeons; academics; researchers and the department of health.