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A Response to Covid-19: Perspectives from African Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Simangaliso Lesley Mashego
Mothusiotsile Edwin Maditsi
Monicca Thulisile Bhuda


It has been little over a year since the global surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments and private efforts to develop a vaccine that will curb the spread of the virus have been made across the globe particularly in developed countries. Withal, there has been worries about equitable access to the vaccines once they have been fully developed and approved for wider population distribution particularly in poorer countries throughout the African continent. This calls for these countries to look for alternative therapeutics through the collaboration of western-trained scientists and indigenous health care practitioners and knowledge holders. A lot has been published on the possible contribution of traditional medicine across the globe, however, little has been done to provide perspectives from African indigenous knowledge systems. The main aim of this paper, is to explore what the current situation in Africa is with regards to the contribution of African indigenous knowledge systems, to the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 and the existing therapeutics used by local communities in the management of the illness. This is done through a preliminary analysis of current literature published in scholarly journals. The article concludes that African traditional medicine has played a huge role in providing primary health care services even though it is under developed compared to Asian traditional medical systems. Therefore, harnessing and developing the ever-present potential of indigenous health care systems towards providing solutions to health challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic is vital. Perceptions of African people towards Western manufactured vaccines are equally important in order to provide an understanding on the level of acceptability within African communities.

Keywords: COVID-19, traditional medicine; illness; African Indigenous Knowledge Systems; government; Africa