African Renaissance in health education : developing an integrative programme of Unani- Tibb training for health care professionals in Southern Africa
Bhikha, Rashid Ahmed Hassen
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The present healthcare system in South Africa suffers from a number of serious deficiencies. Whilst orthodox bio-medicine is well established in most first world countries, its total introduction and implementation into all communities within South Africa faces many obstacles. The cost of diagnostic techniques, investigative procedures and pharmaceutical products, the availability of competent medical staff in the non-urban areas, and the lack of acceptance of the philosophy and practice of orthodox bio-medicine in rural regions are but some of the factors which conspire against the general application of this orthodox medical paradigm. Another problem confronting health care and medical practice in South Africa, particularly at this stage of our historical development, is the absolute focus on orthodox bio-medicine, often to the detriment of other medical paradigms that also have advantages to offer. Can the integration of another medical paradigm, such as Unani- Tibb, enhance the practice of orthodox bio-medicine in this country? The aim of the thesis was to investigate the possibility of integrating Unani- Tibb with orthodox biomedicine (also termed conventional, Western or allopathic medicine) and assess its potential for improving delivery of an effective, affordable and appropriate healthcare system in South Africa. The research questions which the thesis seeks to answer is whether this integration is possible and whether the delivery of healthcare to the South African population can be enhanced. Changes in the provision of medical education are necessary, and occupy a pivotal role in allowing for this integration. Unani-Tibb is a traditional medical system practiced extensively on the Indian sub-continent and in other parts of the world. At present, however, it is minimally practiced in South Africa. Its primary principle is the energetic promotion of health maintenance behaviour and the prevention of disease, through effective application of dietotherapy, pharmacotherapy and other interventions, as well as the empowerment of the patient towards adopting behavioural changes and lifestyle adaptations. One positive aspect of Unani- Tibb is that it has many features in common with both orthodox biomedicine and African Traditional medicine. These commonalities should allow for greater acceptance by orthodox healthcare professionals, as well as the general population.
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