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Traditional healers' perception on scabies causation and management in Ghana

Tehrani, Jian M., Vos, Ingmar A., Kisabacak, Robin, Topper, Marten K., Steinhorst, Jonathan, Phillips, Richard Odame, Abass, Kabiru Mohammed, Osei‐Mireku, Samuel, Anokye, Charles Owusu, Adu Poku, Joseph K., Stienstra, Ymkje and Amoako, Yaw Ampem (2024) 'Traditional healers' perception on scabies causation and management in Ghana'. Tropical Medicine & International Health. (In Press)

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Introduction: Scabies is an underdiagnosed skin infestation caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. The infection causes severe itching and a skin rash but can be effectively treated using topical or systemic drugs. Scabies outbreaks are commonly reported in resource‐poor countries, including Ghana. Traditional healers play an important role in primary care in rural areas. The role of these traditional healers in the management of scabies has so far not been explored. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the perceptions of traditional healers regarding the causation and management of scabies.

Methods: A phenomenological qualitative approach was employed. Traditional healers in the Asante Akim North and Central districts in Ghana were approached with an interview request. Using a semi‐structured interview protocol, 15 traditional healers were interviewed. The results were coded and analysed, after which seven themes were extrapolated.

Results: Scabies infections were frequently reported by traditional healers. Itching and skin rash were unanimously regarded as the major symptoms of scabies. The majority acknowledged the infectious nature of scabies, but no participant reported the causative organism. A dichotomous disease classification was noted, consisting of ‘natural’ and ‘spiritual’ variants each with a unique disease profile and management requirements, as reported by the traditional healers. All but two traditional healers reported to treat scabies using almost exclusively herbs and spiritual rituals.

Conclusion: The majority of traditional healers were open to collaboration with allopathic healthcare providers. Collaboration could broaden the primary care network in rural areas, but mistrust and lack of transparency form potential barriers to collaboration. We, therefore, emphasise the need for additional efforts to investigate strategies for future collaboration.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WA Public Health > WA 30 Socioeconomic factors in public health (General)
WR Dermatology > WR 140 Skin diseases (General)
WR Dermatology > Parasitic Skin Diseases > WR 365 Scabies
WZ History of Medicine. Medical Miscellany > Miscellany Relating to Medicine > WZ 309 Folklore. Proverbs. Superstitions. Traditional
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Pubrouter
Depositing User: JISC Pubrouter
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2024 13:19
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2024 13:19


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