A traditional healer at his stall at the Herb Market in Warwick Triangle, Durban. Picture: Peter Duffy
A traditional healer at his stall at the Herb Market in Warwick Triangle, Durban. Picture: Peter Duffy

Traditional healers slam science summit

By Yolisa Tswanya Time of article published Nov 13, 2017

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Cape Town - The Traditional Healers' Organisation (THO) has called an upcoming summit on pseudoscience in healthcare “medical apartheid”.

Pseudoscience and quackery in health care will come under scrutiny next week as Stellenbosch University hosts the first international summit on the dangers.

The summit will be held over two days and will be jointly hosted by the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, and the Centre for Science and Technology Mass Communication (Censcom) of the post-graduate Department of Journalism at the university.

THO national co-ordinator Phepsile Maseko said traditional medicine had a right to exist in the same space as other science.

“Its interesting that those in the West are quick to judge and label it as anti-science, yet they steal from traditional medicine. When they use words like 'quackery', we do not mind because that is apartheid talk.”

Maseko said the reason traditional medicine is labelled as pseudoscience and quackery is because “they do not want it to thrive”.

“We should be regulated by a committee that knows and understands traditional medicine. Some of us are in the science fraternity and we know what to look for. We look for quality, safety and effectiveness, and we know how to get to that.”

“They are opportunistic by nature, those residing in Stellenbosch and around prefer natural and organic products... What is convenient to them, they say what is organic, like traditional medicine, should not be taken seriously, but they consume supplements which are from plants.”

The director of Censcom, Professor George Claassen, said the summit aimed to counter “quackery and everything that is not made by science”.

“People selling potions and creams that have not been proven and gone through rigorous process... it is dangerous. For example, there are quackery products sold to HIV patients and people believe these can help them,” said Claassen, who developed the first science communication course.

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Cape Argus

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