Traditional medicine is widespread in Ghana, with 80% of Ghanaians relying on its methods for primary health care. This paper argues that integrating traditional and biomedical health systems expands the reach and improves outcomes of community health care. Moving beyond literature, it stresses the importance of trust-relationships between healers and biomedical staff. Insights are based on qualitative research conducted in Ghana's Northern Region (2013-2014). Five challenges to integration emerged out of the data: a lack of understanding of traditional medicine, discrimination, high turnover of biomedical staff, declining interest in healing as a profession, and equipment scarcity. Besides challenges, opportunities for integration exist, including the extensive infrastructure of traditional medicine, openness to collaboration, and grassroots initiatives. Contemplating challenges and opportunities this paper provides recommendations for integration, including: identify/select healers, promote best practices, institute appropriate forms of appreciation/recognition of healers, provide aid and equipment, use communication campaigns to promote integration and steer attitudinal change towards healers among biomedical staff. Most crucial, we argue successful implementation of these recommendations depends on a concerted investment in relationships between healers and biomedical staff.
- Rural health care
- Traditional medicine