The aim of the study was to describe the views of traditional healers regarding the termination of
pregnancies. A contextual and descriptive qualitative study was conducted and seven traditional
healers from Mamelodi, an urban area near Pretoria in South Africa, were interviewed regarding
their views on the termination of pregnancies.
According to South African legislation only doctors and trained midwives can provide legalised
termination of pregnancy services. However, all traditional healers who participated in this study
terminated pregnancies on request and, in some cases did so repeatedly for the same women,
although they advised their patients not to use abortions as a family planning method. They
recommended that women should use traditional contraceptive herbs to prevent pregnancies.
The interviewed traditional healers believed in their remedies and only advised their patients to
consult healthcare professionals at hospitals in cases of severe bleeding.
Some South African women continue to consult traditional healers to terminate their pregnancies
despite the availability of legalised free termination of pregnancy services at government
hospitals and clinics. Traditional healers provide termination of pregnancy services during one
visit, maintain confidentiality about the procedure and provide “traditional cleansing services”
as well, unlike the government healthcare services that require repeated visits before the
procedure can be completed and then these women still need to visit traditional healers for the
“traditional cleansing services”. These findings could be used as a baseline for further studies regarding cooperation between
traditional healers and Western healthcare providers in South Africa.