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Southwestern University

Publication Date

Fall 2004

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health


A sample of 27 Tuberculosis patients attending New Brighton Clinic in small urban community for treatment were surveyed and interviewed on their use of alternative treatments and interpretation of TB. This study specifically focused on TB patients’ use of traditional medicine in treating TB and whether this use had an effect on the patients’ willingness to utilize and adherence to anti-TB treatment from the clinic. Investigations were also done to characterize if an HIV positive status influenced TB patients’ inclination to utilize traditional medicine. Through a focus group discussion with three traditional healers, information was provided on traditional medicine and indigenous interpretations of tuberculosis, which contributed to the creation of a quantitative questionnaire. From the data gathered from the questionnaire and additional interviews, 70% of patients claimed to have accessed alternative treatments which included traditional treatments, vitamin supplements and cough syrups not issued by the clinic. Traditional medicine was found to be prevalent amongst 59% of the patients sampled. In terms of adherence, patients utilizing alternative medicine during the clinic’s TB drug regimen missed on average 6 more days than patients who refrained from using alternative treatments. Furthermore, the data indicated that 37% of patients tried utilizing traditional treatments, including consulting traditional healers, in order to cure the TB symptoms. These patients were found to on average wait while exhibiting TB symptoms for 20 more days before accessing the clinic, than patients who chose not to use any sort of alternative medicine to treat TB. HIV status was found to have no influence on patients’ utilization of alternative treatments. From the analysis of data, conclusion were draw that the general public would benefit from receiving more education of identification of TB symptoms, cause, and treatment so access of treatments would be more expedient. Also, cooperation between the biomedical and traditional practitioners was found to be necessary in order to encourage patients to use and adherence to biomedical TB treatment.


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Epidemiology | Public Health



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