Knowledge and perceptions of pharmacy students at University of Limpopo (Medunsa campus) about the use of African traditional medicines in the health care system*
The acceptance and recognition of African traditional medicine (ATM) by the government compels health care professionals to be aware and knowledgeable about ATM. The aim was of the study to determine the perceptions and knowledge of University of Limpopo (UL), Medunsa Campus, undergraduate Pharmacy students regarding ATMs and their use in the health care system. A descriptive quantitative study was performed on 187 of the 245 enrolled BPharm students of 2013 using a self-administered questionnaire. The majority (93.6%, n = 187) of students were aware about the use of ATM by the public and two thirds knew someone who used ATMs, including themselves (32%, n = 184). They perceived the ATMs to be sometimes effective (70%, n = 184) and beneficial (55%, n = 182) when combined with conventional medicines. They thought pharmacists had a role to play in ATM issues (67.4%, n = 178), however, they believed it was inappropriate that pharmacists sell the ATMs (63.2%, n = 163). They knew plants and animals as sources of ATMs and rural dwellers, the poor and the illiterate as common users of ATMs. The media was their main source of information. The study found that the pharmacy students were aware of ATM use by the public, were fairly knowledgeable about ATM and perceived the medicines well. There is need for students to be educated about ATMs to close the identified knowledge gaps and to dispel the myths and misconceptions present.
Keywords: African traditional medicine, pharmacy students.
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