African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Preventive health care potential of cultural taboos: A case of Dikgale community in Limpopo province, South Africa

Sejabaledi A. Rankoana


Preventive health care falls within the scope of primary health care as it is meant to prevent susceptibility to disease and ill health. It involves the mechanisms used to avoid the occurrence of disease by either eliminating disease agents or increasing resistance through health promotion. In indigenous societies, these mechanisms involve observance of cultural taboos that are believed to limit the prevalence of illness and diseases. This study explored the role of culture in preventive health care. Its objective was to describe cultural taboos with preventive health care potential observed by the members of Dikgale community in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Indepth interviews were conducted with 90 participants purposely selected from the community. The results revealed six types of cultural taboos with preventive health carepotential categorised as association, food and sex taboos. The explanations given for observing these cultural taboos were that the taboos are moral codes whose practice limit susceptibility to illness and disease. Cultural taboos presented in this study are meant for health promotion among the Dikgale community members. These cost-effective and culture-specific preventive practices could be part of the indigenous knowledge systems, which could be incorporated into the Primary Health Care Model as suggested by the World Health Organisation.

Keywords: Cultural taboo, moral code, primary health care, primary prevention, preventive care.

AJOL African Journals Online