Improving Health in South Africa: Traditional Health Practitioner Nompumelelo Mthembu

Nompumelelo Mthembu is a Traditional Health Practitioner in South Africa. As part of the DFATD-funded (formerly CIDA) program to train Community Health Workers, Amref Health Africa worked with Traditional Health Practitioners like Nompumelelo to tackle HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and improve health care for pregnant women and newborns.

Nompumelelo shares her experience in her own words:

“I have been practicing as a traditional healer and birth attendant since 1987. I have helped a lot of women to give birth. I advise pregnant clients to go for antenatal check-ups regularly, and those who have HIV to receive treatment so they can have healthy babies.

Traditional Health Practitioner in South Africa

Traditional Health Practitioner Nompumelelo Mthembu treats a patient

"If a woman comes to me in labour at night, I assist her and then in the morning I take both the baby and the mother to the hospital so that they can be examined and for the baby to be immunized. The nurses at the clinic are very happy when I do this, and they always refer the patients back to me so that I can monitor their progress. I teach the women about nutrition and how to breastfeed their babies properly.

"Before the training with Amref Health Africa, I did not have many clients, and those that I got I kept to myself. I would not refer them even when I could not help them. But, now we work hand-in-hand with the Department of Health. I refer clients to the Jozini or Ophondweni clinics, or to the Mosvold Hospital, and they refer them back to me. I am even called to meetings at the hospital, and I sit down and discuss issues with the doctor. They listen to me and I listen to them. We have a good relationship.

"The training opened my eyes to many things I did not know.”