Current healing systems in Southern Africa focus on the holistic approach to the health and wellness of patients. Biomedical approaches and traditional healing systems that incorporate spiritual healing, mental healing, physical and social healing play a crucial and significant role in health delivery systems in Southern Africa. An integrative approach has been accepted as a vital component of holistic healing. Often, biomedicine has been criticized for overlooking the relationship of the social and spiritual being to the body and the effect the former has on the latter. Medicine and healing are cultural practices; hence the process of healing and the interpretation of illness reflect and reinforce the cultural definitions of the health problem. Biomedical technology often determines what is to be taken as authoritative knowledge and, in turn, establishes a particular domain of power. Biomedicine typically extends this privileged position to economics, politics, and class relationships. While the situation of traditional medicine appears to remain weak and marginalized, effort is being made in most African countries to integrate biomedicine and alternative healing paradigms. This paper explores the influence of traditional beliefs and practices and the use of African traditional medicine in the healing process. It further discusses the integration of indigenous healing systems and western medical approaches. The paper concludes that where both biomedical practices and traditional healing systems exist, patients should have a choice of the healing approach and process they prefer, the former or the latter, or a combination of both.
Key words: Biomedicine, culture, traditional medicine, holistic approach, western medicine.
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