Occ health: Traditional health practitioners


The Traditional Health Practitioners Act (Act 35 of 2004) describes a traditional health practitioner as a person delivering a service based on traditional practices in order to (1) restore physical or mental health (2) diagnose, treat and prevent physical or mental illness (3) rehabilitate the ill person (4) prepare persons for puberty, adulthood, pregnancy, childbirth or death.

Traditional health practitioners (THP) are governed by the Interim Traditional Practitioners Council of South Africa. This council ensures efficacy, safety and quality of traditional health services. It is also involved in training and regulation of THPs. THPs consist of diviners, herbalists, traditional birth attendants and traditional surgeons. THPs are also governed by common law regarding informed consent, confidentiality and professional negligence.

Organisational policies must be drawn up on how to manage THPs sick notes. OHPs are trained according to scientific model of medicine and can’t give an opinion on sick notes concerning ancestral problems or traditional diseases. OHPs can give an opinion on the validity of THP sick notes concerning diseases known to modern medicine. Cases of sick notes regarding ancestral diseases must be referred back to the Interim Traditional Practitioners Council for an opinion on its validity.

There may be organisational blanket policies discussing the management of sick notes from traditional healers e.g. 4 days of traditional sick leave per year.