The importance of traditional healers in the planning of rural healthcare delivery in Ghana: the case of bone-setting services in Loagri and Wungu
There has been increasing debate on whether traditional healers actually matter in planning for healthcare delivery and how their services can be effectively integrated into planning for formal health delivery systems. Whilst many have raised issues of standardization and efficacy against traditional healing, others have acclaimed its efficacy and many Ghanaians are claimed to have confidence in it and use traditional healing simultaneously with orthodox treatment. Detailed qualitative interviews were held with two bone-setters, one in Loagri and one in Wungu, 150 bone patients, 100 community members and 20 health staff. It was revealed that rural healthcare planning must incorporate traditional bone-setters and therefore traditional healers as they offer useful services and are popular because of the proximity one has to such services in relation to clinics and hospitals, the cost of healthcare, socio-cultural beliefs and norms and the confidence the people with bone injuries have in traditional bone-setters. In spite of the importance of traditional bone-setters, the weak collaboration with district hospitals, inadequate accommodation, limited use of modern equipment, and inadequate support and recognition from the District Assembly and the Ministry of Health undermine their role. Effective collaboration between traditional bone-setters and the West Mamprusi District Hospital and the integration of traditional bone-setting into the national public health framework need urgent policy attention.
Keywords: Bone-setting, Ghana, planning, healthcare, traditional healers
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