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Title: A Mixed Methods Study on the Utilization of Traditional Health Practices in South Africa
Authors: Leahy, Brianna
Advisors: Adserà, Alícia
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: This study addresses the use of traditional health in South Africa through OLS regression on the 1998 Demographic and Health Survey of South Africa and interviews with three doctors who work on the Eastern Cape. Traditional medical health practices are currently used by over 80% of black South Africans and there are as many as 200,000 practicing traditional healers, although these treatments are not subsidized by the government and are therefore paid for out­‐of-­pocket. Measurements of traditional medicine use in this study included the utilization of traditional birth attendants, the administration of herbal medicine to treat diarrhea in children, as well as whether or not the respondent gave herbal tea to their child. An ordinary least square regression showed that when controlling for level of education and race, blacks were more likely to use a traditional birth attendant (0.009 (p<0.001)), give herbal medicine to their child (0.038 (p<0.01)), and give herbal tea to their child (0.55 (p<0.001)) in reference to white users. Education had a small predictive effect on the use of traditional health practices, although educational attainment was highly correlated with partner’s education, contraceptive use, and ethnicity. Predictive indicators for the users of traditional health changed with respect to which traditional health variable was being regressed. This showed the variability among traditional health practices and found that those who use traditional health practices may not necessarily hold a traditional health belief. Results from the interviews with the doctors indicated that the majority of patients who seek modern health practices have a mixed western and spiritual outlook on health, and that certain diseases are either traditional or modern and can only be cured by attending the proper health professional. Policy emphasis should be placed on regulating the traditional health sector in terms of training, property of knowledge, and use of medication not for the intention of creating a economic profits or a comprehensive health sector with modern health practices, but rather for the well-­‐being of patients who gain a great deal of mental, spiritual, and physical relief through traditional health practices.
Extent: 97 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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