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Working with traditional healers to reduce the mental health treatment gap in low- and middle-income countries 

Working with traditional healers to reduce the mental health treatment gap in low- and middle-income countries
Chapter:
Working with traditional healers to reduce the mental health treatment gap in low- and middle-income countries
Author(s):

David M. Ndetei

, Christine W. Musyimi

, Erick S. Nandoya

, Lydia Matoke

, and Victoria N. Mutiso

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198792994.003.0059
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date: 24 September 2021

Traditional healers have a unique role to play, especially in resource-limited settings. Although more than half of the community members in Africa consult healers, the majority of them have no formal training and thus identify and treat mental illness through experience or apprenticeship. The duration of training can take from several weeks to years, depending on the ability of the apprentice or the individual’s motivation to learn. An informal certification or being given the mandate to treat patients is certified by the trainer who is mostly a fellow healer or an older relative. This chapter discusses the roles, knowledge, attitude, and practice of traditional healers in mental health care, as well as unwarranted practices that have been regulated through the Traditional Health Practitioners’ Bill and Act. Recommendations for future plans to encourage their participation in mental health care are also outlined at the end of the chapter.

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