Indigenous healing practices in Malawi
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One of the most important areas of African culture in which the significant presence of traditional beliefs can be seen is through sickness and healing. In many traditional cultures, illness is thought to be caused by psychological conflicts or disturbed social relations that create a disequilibrium expressed in the form of physical or mental problems. In Malawi, traditional healing has been practised for centuries even before colonialisation. It is said that about 80% of the population utilise traditional healers and medicine for their health needs. This paper sets out several of the issues and controversies that surround traditional healing and medicine in Malawi. An overview of the traditional Malawian theory of illness, the diversity of healing practices for somatic and psychosocial disorders, the socio-cultural context of healing and cultural interpretations of disease and intervention are provided. The problem of efficacy and scientific validation of traditional medicine is discussed.
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