Perceptions of safety and efficacy of traditional medicines by community members in Botswana, Harriet Okatch, Kerstin Andrae-Marobela, Keitseng Monyatsi, Audrey Masizana-Katongo, Barbara Ngwenya and Mbaki Muzila
University of Botswana1
Centre for Scientific Research, Indigenous Knowledge & Innovation (CesrIKi), Botswana2
African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), Zimbabwe3
Okavango Research Institute (ORI), Botswana4
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand the perceptions and attitudes of community members towards traditional medicines, including their safety, authenticity and efficacy.
Methodology: A participatory exploratory study design was chosen, combined with a multiple approach to data collection and analysis using consultative and report-back workshops, individual interviews and focus-group discussions.
Findings: Eighty-four per cent of the community members felt that traditional medicines are safe, especially if prescribed instructions are followed. Some of the interviewees felt that traditional healers were better equipped to treat certain diseases whilst biomedical doctors were more efficient in others, hence complementary. The efficacy of traditional medicines was undoubted; however, the authenticity of some traditional healers was questioned.
Originality: The study demonstrates the support of the community towards traditional healers and traditional medicine. This support should guide the relation between traditional healing and the formal public healthcare system.
Keywords: Traditional medicines, Traditional healers, Community members, Safety, Efficacy