Alban Africa


Background Information

Practitioners of traditional medicine vastly outnumber allopathic doctors in Uganda. The National Traditional Healers and Herbalists Association has recently put forth a proposal to establish a hospital in Mengo, Kampala, where traditional health care will be offered. This proposed 20-bed hospital would operate with facilities worth US$ 8.9 million.

Traditional and Modern Health Practitioners Together against AIDS and other diseases (THETA) is an indigenous non-governmental organization dedicated to improving mutually respectful collaboration between traditional and allopathic health practitioners in Uganda. THETA is working with traditional medicine practitioners in education, counselling, and improved clinical care for people with sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Regulatory Situation

The Medical Practitioners and Dental Surgeons Act 10 of 1968 prohibits unlicensed persons from practicing medicine, dentistry, or surgery. However, Section 36 allows the practice of any system of therapeutics by persons recognized to be duly trained in such practice by the community to which they belong, provided the practice is limited to that person and that community. In Uganda, the Ministry of Health presides over allopathic practitioners, while the Ministry of Women in Development, Culture, and Youth presides over traditional medicine practitioners.

The Government of Uganda has expressed interest in recognizing traditional health systems and has set up, under the Ministry of Health, the Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Laboratory to study the therapeutic potential of natural products. The intention is eventually to include in the National Health Service those products deemed efficacious. Research is conducted jointly with traditional medicine practitioners.

The Government of Uganda is in the process of developing a health policy emphasizing primary health care. The Health Review Commission recommended that the Ministry of Health work closely with traditional medicine practitioners to achieve the objectives of health for all by the year 2000. The Commission specifically recommended including traditional health practitioners as members of community health teams and welcoming them to participate in primary health care.

Education and Training

THETA organizes training programs for traditional medicine practitioners and is establishing and managing a resource and training center to facilitate the collection and dissemination of information on traditional medicine.