Combining Western Medicine And Traditional Medicine In South Africa

2447 words - 10 pages

The clash between the western (or scientific) and traditional approaches to medicine has existed for many years. The conceptual differences between the two schools of thought resulted in mistrust between scholars of representing them. Each one of the approaches can be effective in some medical cases and neither can offers complete solutions in others. However, the western approach has been proven to be much more effective in treating serious deadly conditions that require complex diagnosis, surgeries, and drugs. South Africa, where the HIV/AIDS epidemic takes countless lives daily, could greatly benefit from an availability of medical achievements provided by the western doctors. At the same time, due to political, cultural, and economic reasons, the traditional healing is still the dominating method in this country. Being trusted by the local population and an integral part of the local culture, traditional healers can play a key role in building a trust between the local population and western doctors.
Western, or scientific medicine, primarily uses drugs and surgeries for treating patients. Its treatments are based on diagnoses provided by trained doctors and nurses. In general, the approach is to address symptoms of various illnesses and conditions. Western medicine is heavily relying on science and scientific researches particularly in chemistry and biology. The traditional medicine is mostly practiced in Asia, South America, and Africa. As oppose to the western medicine, it relies on the powers of natural resources, spirituality, and physical contact. Typically, traditional healers don’t go to formal medical schools; they are trained by other healers within their communities. They use herbs, animals, minerals, and other natural resources in combination with traditional spiritual rituals to heal the sick.
In most developed and developing countries, the western medicine has won the battle and became predominate. Not to say that traditional healing is completely ineffective: there are certain conditions where the traditional methods are effective but these conditions are limited. For example, even in the West, people use herbs and oils, which are closely associated with traditional methods, to effectively treat skin conditions or problems with internal organs. However, there are no scientific studies that would confirm the effectives of the traditional approaches to serious conditions such as AIDS or cancer. Most people that have a choice and access follow the western treatment path because it has proven to be more effective and methodical. With that, the traditional healing wasn’t completely disregarded as an option even for people with serious condition; when people are desperate they will try anything that they believe might safe their life. One of the most notable examples is the story of Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of the Apple Company. When he was diagnosed with cancer in 2003, instead of going through chemotherapy...

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