Original Research - Special Collection: COVID-19 from a Theological Perspective

Who may heal? A plea from traditional healers to participate in treating Covid-19

Jaco Beyers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a6169 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.6169 | © 2020 Jaco Beyers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 May 2020 | Published: 18 November 2020

About the author(s)

Jaco Beyers, Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


During 2020, communities all over the world suffered from infections and disruptions because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Health assistance in different forms was provided to assist patients. In addition, the South African Department of Health employed several measures to curb the spread of the virus. The traditional healers acting as basic health providers objected to not being asked to participate in government activities dealing with the virus. Data acquired through a qualitative approach provided insight into the pleas of traditional healers to support in the fight against Covid-19. Traditional healers were not consulted by the Department of Health, although the traditional healers are officially considered as part of the government system to provide healthcare. The Traditional Health Practitioners Act, no. 22 of 2007, provided legal recognition to traditional healers. There has been extensive written work dealing with the role of Traditional Healers in the South African healthcare system. This article investigated, through a consideration of the available literature, the differences between the Healing and Biomedical paradigms as two separate ways of presenting healthcare during the Covid-19 pandemic. Through a comparative study of the two approaches as represented by the paradigms, the reasons for not consulting and allowing traditional healers to participate in the fight against Covid-19 were investigated. Some of the reasons include the bias of science versus indigenous knowledge, as a basis for knowledge on health matters. The study recommended that traditional healers have a role to play and a contribution to make to the South African healthcare system and should be allowed to perform their activities.

Contributions: The article contributes to the understanding of how different worldviews influence the application of medical services with a particular focus on treatment provided during the Covid-19 pandemic. The contribution to treatment by traditional healers is investigated. The relation between biomedical and traditional healing is highlighted with suggestions as to future collaboration.


traditional healers; biomedical health practitioners; Covid-19; worldview; religion; health system


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Crossref Citations

1. From advocating to attending: The shifting role of the South African Council of Churches during the COVID-19 pandemic
Thembelani Jentile
Pharos Journal of Theology  issue: 105(1)  year: 2023  
doi: 10.46222/pharosjot.10525