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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 115-120

Traditional healers in Senegal: Characteristics and beliefs about treatment of diabetes

1 Medical and Graduate Education, Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, Hersey, PA, USA
2 Department of Health Management and Policy, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO, USA
3 Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
4 Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL, USA
5 Department of Medical Biosciences, University of Western Cape, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Bellville, South Africa

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Rhonda Belue
Salus Center, 3545 Lafayette Ave., St. Louis, MO 63103
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jncd.jncd_3_19

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Background: It is known that patients with noncommunicable diseases utilize traditional healers (THs) regardless of their ability to access biomedical treatment facilities. However, information regarding the practices of THs and how they treat in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) is limited. This study examines the sociodemographic characteristics of Senegalese THs, how they treat diabetes, and how they interact with both patients and the larger health-care system. Materials and Methods: THs were identified in M'bour, Senegal, who practice alongside a government hospital and several health outposts. Twenty THs agreed to participate in recorded interviews. A standardized questionnaire was used to investigate general practices and management of diabetes. Results: Eighteen of the THs were male, ages 22–70 years. Thirteen were trained through family members, while five never received training, citing that they were born with or received their gift in a dream. All THs treated physical illnesses, including diabetes. Plants were used by all THs and were usually dispensed in the form of powder. Nine THs stated that they could lower blood sugar levels, while five said they were able to cure diabetes completely. Many THs cited referring patients to biomedical treatment centers if unable to manage their conditions either initially or after treatments were unsuccessful. Conclusions: This study provides insight into the practice of THs in rural Senegal. Findings suggest the need for collaboration among THs, health professionals, and patients, given the increasing burden of diabetes in SSA.

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