During the colonial period, traditional medicine was denigrated. After independence in 1964, the Zambian Government did not enact legislation to regulate traditional medicine, nor was a clear policy on the practice of traditional medicine postulated. Nevertheless, traditional medicine continued to be practiced and was tolerated by the authorities. Currently, herbal medicine, naturopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, reflexology, spiritualism, and other forms of medicine are practiced in Zambia. Both Zambians and foreign nationals practice traditional and complementary/alternative medicine.
At least 70% of Zambians use traditional medicine. Traditional and complementary/alternative medicine is used and accepted by a great majority of the population, regardless of ethnic, religious, or social background. There are more than 35,000 members of the Traditional Health Practitioners’ Association of Zambia, founded in 1978, and thousands of non-members.
The Government recognizes traditional and complementary/alternative medicine and there are national policies on traditional and complementary/alternative medicine. The Traditional Health Practitioners’ Association reviews and registers traditional practitioners for licensing. Although there are no official regulatory measures for recognizing the qualifications of practitioners, plans are under way to develop such regulations.
Traditional medicine and complementary/alternative medicine are neither integrated with allopathic medicine nor into the national health system. However, Traditional Birth Attendants and Community Health Care Workers practice at the level of primary health care.
The National Drug Policy has a chapter on traditional medicines, which discusses the materia medica but not the practice of traditional medicine.
Education and Training
There is no formal training in traditional or complementary/alternative medicine at any allopathic training institutions.
Traditional and complementary/alternative medicine are not covered by insurance in Zambia.