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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: May 2012

19 - The Discourses of Practitioners in Africa

from PART VI - THE DISCOURSES OF PRACTITIONERS ON MEDICAL ETHICS
Summary

INTRODUCTION

This chapter examines the roles and practices of traditional African healers prior to the introduction of the “modern” scientific world view into the conception and practice of medicine in Africa. To this end, this chapter distinguishes the roles of traditional medical healers in Africa, who mainly dealt with biological causation, from those of diviners, whose work was largely based on metaphysical aspects. This section of the chapter also explores the manner in which traditional healers entered the “profession” and examines the ethical framework within which these healers carried out their work. In addition, this chapter examines the wider role and social standing of the traditional healer in the community. It must be noted that whereas this chapter is essentially a historical account, traditional healers remain active in almost all parts of Africa. This chapter will also discuss the introduction of “modern medicine” in postcolonial Africa and will investigate the immediate conflict between concepts of Western medicine and traditional healing. Of particular concern will be the tension that exists between modern, Western-educated doctors and their traditional counterparts. This chapter considers the question of whether there has been any integration of modern science into the conception and practice of medicine. In conclusion, this essay will briefly examine the doctor–patient and healer–patient relationship in Africa.

THE AFRICAN WORLD VIEW

One cannot talk about a uniform “African World View.” Africa is a continent made up of more than forty-three countries.

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The Cambridge World History of Medical Ethics
  • Online ISBN: 9781139195812
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521888790
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