“If I Were to Suffer a Stroke Right Now, the First Place That I Should Be Taken to Is the Traditional Healer”: Community Beliefs and Health-Seeking Practices for Noncommunicable Diseases in Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
The burden of chronic noncommunicable diseases in rural South Africa is exacerbated by delayed health-seeking. This study explored awareness, beliefs and health-seeking behaviour relating to diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases in Ingwavuma, a poor rural community in the uMkhanyakude district of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Eight gender and age-stratified Focus Group Discussions (FGD) were conducted in isiZulu using a pre-tested FGD guide with seventy-six participants. Thematic analysis was done to discern views on access to care for noncommunicable diseases. Findings revealed limited awareness of hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular-related disease burden. The community practices medical plurality, and consultation with traditional healers precedes biomedical care for acute illness with symptoms like metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases. Males prefer self-care and herbal remedies, probably due to cultural and masculinity expectations. Furthermore, distant health facilities and transport costs hinder biomedical care utilisation. Our study revealed the nuanced interaction of cultural and socioeconomic factors on chronic noncommunicable disease perception and health-seeking practices in Ingwavuma. The study indicates the need for improving access to primary healthcare facilities and community-based health promotion in partnership with community stakeholders to improve awareness and health-seeking behaviour.
cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, disease burden, health beliefs, health perceptions, hypertension, rural KwaZulu-Natal, medical plurality, noncommunicable diseases uMkhanyakude, South Africa, traditional and herbal medicine
Authors thank the Ingwavuma community for participating in this research. The researchers are also grateful to Dr. Hlengiwe Sacolo-Gwebu for reviewing the study tool and expertly moderating focus group discussions.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.
Recommended APA Citation
Chikafu, H., Mutero, I. T., & Chimbari, M. J. (2022). “If I Were to Suffer a Stroke Right Now, the First Place That I Should Be Taken to Is the Traditional Healer”: Community Beliefs and Health-Seeking Practices for Noncommunicable Diseases in Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The Qualitative Report, 27(1), 243-256. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2022.5229