South Africa: Open dialogue between western and traditional medicine

Adri Ludick, CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation (Johannesburg) – December 03, 2013

CHOC_earlywarningsign_01Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa (CHOC) hosted a meeting between representative of western and traditional medicine to raise awareness on early detection.

On the 21st of November 2013 CHOC hosted an open dialogue between representative of western and traditional medicine. The aim of the day was to create awareness on the early detection of childhood cancer and in doing so, decrease the mortality and morbidity of children with cancer. 539 Delegates from different Traditional Healers organisations, the MEC’s office, Gauteng Health, CHOC and other like-minded organisations attended the day.

Dr Mangopane, Clinical Executive for Paediatrics at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital opened the day and welcomed the delegates. Adri Ludick (Divisional Manager: CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation) introduced the purpose of the day and informed the audience about the awareness campaign. Since 2012 CHOC has trained 1051 health professionals in Gauteng, 92 in the Vhembe District of Limpopo and since March 2013 we have trained 1429 traditional healers on the early warning signs of childhood cancer.

Both western and traditional medicine has failed the child with cancer due to a lack of knowledge and training in paediatric oncology. Jillian Gardner from the Steve Biko School of ethics spoke about the ethics and rights of a child accessing health services, Prof Vinesh Maharaj from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pretoria shared his expertise based on traditional medicine and medicinal plants and Dr Monica Vaithiligum did a presentation on “Childhood cancer: the way forward”. Meisie Lerutle, Chief Director of District Health Services in Gauteng gave an overview of the integration of traditional medicine into Primary Health Care and the management of cancer within the National Department of Health.

After lunch, Ernest du Toit (CEO and owner of Annique Health and Beauty) and Thulani Kunene (Director: Stakeholder Management at the office of the MEC of Health in Gauteng) facilitated a panel discussion.  The panel consisted of Dr Vaithilingum (Paediatric Haematologist/ Oncologist), Thabo Dube (CHOC Social Worker),  Dr Thomas KaNhlapo (Nyangeyezizwa Traditional Healers), Prof AJ Grobler (Dean of the New World Mission International University and Natural Health Practitioner), Mzwandile Khanya (Past National Chairman: CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation and a bereaved parent), Isaac Mayeng (Director: Traditional Medicine Group at GP Health), Dr Maseko (President: Traditional Healers Organisation) and Jillian Gardner.  During the interesting panel discussion both traditional and western medicine felt that there is a need for collaboration, respect and better communication.

CHOC documented the day and a detailed report will be provided to the National Department of Health to assist them with the integration of traditional medicine into primary health care. The day was a huge success and the first steps have been taken to a better understanding of each other.

A special thank you to the CHOC Staff and Volunteers, Phepsile Maseko, Deborah Mothopeng, Kealeboga Mohanjane, Nkosiyethu Mazibuko, Thokoane Caterers, Superior Vision and Gauteng Traditional and Faith Medical Practitioners for making the day a success.

We also want to thank the sponsors: Anglo American Chairman’s Fund, Dell, Annique Health and Beauty, The Cows™, Oasis Water, Winplas Premium Plastic Packaging and RMB Corporate Banking Volunteers.

CHOC_earlywarningsign_03 CHOC_earlywarningsign_02