Treatment of sexually transmitted infections by Bapedi traditional health practitioners

Maema, Lesibana P; Potgieter, Martin J; Samie, A


The knowledge of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is limited in scope especially among traditional health practitioners (THPs) who are members of Bapedi tribe in South Africa. This study investigated the traditional knowledge of STIs from Bapedi THPs. Using a semi-structured questionnaire, 30 THPs were selected via a snowball sampling. Results revealed that THPs of the Waterberg District treat four STIs. STI treated were syphilis (thosala), genital warts (tšhofela), testicular swelling (mokabe) and makgoma (cultural taboo). A period for treatment of STIs was monthly (41%), followed by seasonal (34%), weekly (15.6%) and daily (9.4%). Syphilis (thosola) was the most frequently treated (45.5%), followed by makgoma (24.2%), genital warts (21.1%) and testicular swelling (9.0%). The diagnoses of STIs by THPs correspond to the western known syndromes such as male urethritis syndrome, genital ulcer syndrome and vaginal discharge syndrome. However, aetiological surveillance demonstrated that diagnoses used by THPs are not always accurate or consistent with diagnoses made using the methods and procedures of western scientific medicine. Of immediate concern is that THPs lack information on the etiological agents of genital ulcer and vaginal discharge. It is recommended that THPs be given elementary training on sexual and reproductive health, especially on etiological agents of STIs.


Bapedi terms; Sexually transmitted infections (STIs); Traditional health practitioners (THPs)

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