Traditional medicine and healing (TMH) is a major contributor to the healthcare needs of citizens of many countries, especially in developing countries and among the rural poor. This study of traditional medicine and healing among the Dagomba of Ghana seeks to answer the following questions: How is traditional medicine and healing practiced among the Dagomba of Ghana? What influences people to choose traditional medicine and healing? And how do different actors think traditional medicine and healing can be included in the formal Ghanaian health system? Through in-depth individual interviews, focus group discussions and the use of qualitative questionnaires and personal observation, the study reveals that traditional healing among Dagomba is largely influenced by their culture and health philosophies. They theorize that doro (illness) has both internal and external dimensions with multiple causal factors and that alaafee (good health) is having suhudoo (peace of mind) and a balanced relationship with: oneself, others, the environment and the spiritual world. People’s choice for traditional healing is based on the nature of the illness, its perceived cause and other socio-cultural factors. “Secrecy” is used both as a psychological and political tool by healers to protect their intellectual property rights and to promote suhudoo among patients. Finally, the study finds that to ensure the inclusion of traditional medicine and healers in the formal health system, there must be a very strong collaboration between practitioners of both health systems and a shared understanding of traditional healing practices among western medical practitioners and secondly, a framework for mutual referral of patients should be established as the most viable option for inclusion of TMH.
Thesis in Munin