The role of traditional medical practitioners in healthcare delivery in Offinso District, Ashanti region

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In many developing countries and other developed world more people use traditional medicine to cater for their health care needs. Globally WHO has estimated that 80% of rural folks in the developing world rely on traditional medicine for their health care needs. The Ghanaian situation is a similar one; traditional medicine contributes immensely to the health of the majority of people living not only in the rural areas, but also in the urban centres of the country. In the rural district of Offinso in the Ashanti Region with a population of 153,657 and a doctor-population ratio of 1:38414 in 2003, tradition medicine was the most widely used health care service by the inhabitants as supported by the results of the study. However, in the District the services of T.M.Ps were not captured in health care data, in order to influence health care service planning and also present the true picture of disease morbidity and mortality patterns. This study, therefore, assessed the role played by genuine traditional medical practitioners in the provision of medical services to the people and their contribution to the overall health care delivery in the Offinso District. A descriptive cross-sectional survey approach, using qualitative and quantitative methods to process data gathered at interviews, was adopted in this study to evaluate independent variables developed for the research. The study results and analysis of the data gathered during the survey indicated amongst others that, traditional medicine was contributing significantly to health care services in the District: The weekly reported new cases at the shrine/herbal clinics was higher (67.62%) than that gathered from orthodox health facilities (32.3 8%), with reasonably high cure rate for diseases (67.10%) reported by patients who used the services of T.M.Ps. Irrespective of the valuable input from the T.M.Ps into the health care system in the District, their services were not targeted for improvement by health service authorities. They were virtually left alone, as unregulated individual professionals whose population and locations were not known to the Ghana Health Service Directorate. This could expose more people to the exploitation of quack T.M.Ps willing to take advantage of the situation. Cooperation between genuine T.M.Ps themselves was very low and in the real sense, none existed between O.M.Ps and T.M.Ps , which could be exploited for the benefit of quality health care services to clients. It was important, therefore, to recommend that the Ghana Health Service in the District must help to take census of all the T.M.Ps in its catchments area, and put measures in place to regulate their activities for the benefit of the clients who have been using the services of the T.M.Ps. The researcher further recommended that the Government must help to improve traditional medical services in the District by supporting and investing money into traditional medicine.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Community Health, School of Medical Sciences, College of Health Sciences Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of in Health Services Planning and Management, 2004