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Metallic mercury use by South African traditional health practitioners: perceptions and practices.

Street RA, Kabera GM, Connolly C - Environ Health (2015)

Bottom Line: The most common responses for mercury administration were for child birth (n = 70; 90%) and protection against guns (n = 39; 50%).This is the first study to describe the prevalence and practice of mercury use in South African traditional medicine.In light of such findings, public education messages and regulatory measures need to be effected.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: HIV Prevention Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Durban, South Africa. renee.street@mrc.ac.za.

ABSTRACT

Background: Mercury is a toxic metal however its use in traditional healthcare systems remains widespread. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of mercury use by South African Traditional Health Practitioners (THP) and to document reasons for use and administration methods.

Methods: A cross-sectional study design was employed. A total of 201 THPs were enrolled from two main metropolitan areas of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), and 198 were included in the final analysis. Information on demographic characteristics, reasons for using or not using mercury as well as mercury administration methods were collected.

Results: Of the 198 THPs, 78 (39%) used mercury for healing purposes and 74 (95%) of the mercury users stated that they were taught to use it by another THP. The two main routes of administration were oral and sub-cutaneous implantations (ukugcaba) at 85% (n = 66) and 59% (n = 46), respectively. The most common responses for mercury administration were for child birth (n = 70; 90%) and protection against guns (n = 39; 50%).

Conclusion: This is the first study to describe the prevalence and practice of mercury use in South African traditional medicine. Socio-cultural mercury use is a potential source of exposure to both THPs and their patients. In light of such findings, public education messages and regulatory measures need to be effected.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Flow diagram of study design
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Fig1: Flow diagram of study design

Mentions: THPs were sourced from two main metropolitan areas of KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa; eThekwini (Durban) and uMgungundlovu (Pietermaritzburg). Because no official THP database exists, snowball sampling method was utilized with an initial total sample of 20. All THPs were in practice with active and recognized consultation sites; this information was verified by district THP coordinators assisting in the study. After potential participants were identified, telephonic contact was initiated to inform and invite participants to the study. Some participants who accepted the invitations did not present themselves to the study thus from the initial 182 invited, 159 (87 %) were interviewed at a centralized location. To increase heterogeneity, a further 42 THPs practicing at the eThekwini herbal market were invited to partake in the study and were interviewed at their place of consultation at the market. Hence 201 THPs were interviewed (Fig. 1). All interviews were conducted between April and May 2012. The participants signed an informed consent form prior to the start of the interview, and structured questionnaires were administered in the local language (isiZulu) by trained interviewers.Fig. 1


Metallic mercury use by South African traditional health practitioners: perceptions and practices.

Street RA, Kabera GM, Connolly C - Environ Health (2015)

Flow diagram of study design
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4537568&req=5

Fig1: Flow diagram of study design
Mentions: THPs were sourced from two main metropolitan areas of KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa; eThekwini (Durban) and uMgungundlovu (Pietermaritzburg). Because no official THP database exists, snowball sampling method was utilized with an initial total sample of 20. All THPs were in practice with active and recognized consultation sites; this information was verified by district THP coordinators assisting in the study. After potential participants were identified, telephonic contact was initiated to inform and invite participants to the study. Some participants who accepted the invitations did not present themselves to the study thus from the initial 182 invited, 159 (87 %) were interviewed at a centralized location. To increase heterogeneity, a further 42 THPs practicing at the eThekwini herbal market were invited to partake in the study and were interviewed at their place of consultation at the market. Hence 201 THPs were interviewed (Fig. 1). All interviews were conducted between April and May 2012. The participants signed an informed consent form prior to the start of the interview, and structured questionnaires were administered in the local language (isiZulu) by trained interviewers.Fig. 1

Bottom Line: The most common responses for mercury administration were for child birth (n = 70; 90%) and protection against guns (n = 39; 50%).This is the first study to describe the prevalence and practice of mercury use in South African traditional medicine.In light of such findings, public education messages and regulatory measures need to be effected.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: HIV Prevention Research Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Durban, South Africa. renee.street@mrc.ac.za.

ABSTRACT

Background: Mercury is a toxic metal however its use in traditional healthcare systems remains widespread. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of mercury use by South African Traditional Health Practitioners (THP) and to document reasons for use and administration methods.

Methods: A cross-sectional study design was employed. A total of 201 THPs were enrolled from two main metropolitan areas of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), and 198 were included in the final analysis. Information on demographic characteristics, reasons for using or not using mercury as well as mercury administration methods were collected.

Results: Of the 198 THPs, 78 (39%) used mercury for healing purposes and 74 (95%) of the mercury users stated that they were taught to use it by another THP. The two main routes of administration were oral and sub-cutaneous implantations (ukugcaba) at 85% (n = 66) and 59% (n = 46), respectively. The most common responses for mercury administration were for child birth (n = 70; 90%) and protection against guns (n = 39; 50%).

Conclusion: This is the first study to describe the prevalence and practice of mercury use in South African traditional medicine. Socio-cultural mercury use is a potential source of exposure to both THPs and their patients. In light of such findings, public education messages and regulatory measures need to be effected.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus