Document Type



Mobile, AL



First Advisor

Kelly Urban


A question of pressing importance for the healthcare system in Ghana is the integration between biomedical physicians, who are unreachable for many rural citizens, and traditional healers, who fill in the gaps in access for rural and non-rural citizens seeking care, and are oftentimes the preferred choice. The care offered by each system is derived from differing paradigms, with the biomedical related to Westernized practices and the healing related to holistic, traditional approaches. Integration of these systems would allow for more acknowledgment and communication between these two different kinds of providers, which in turn would improve the quality of care provided to all patients.

The Ghanaian government did create policies to aid in integration, but the integration attempts were unsuccessful. The private practice attempts began in the 1940s while public service attempts began in the 1980s. The most notable integration efforts began in 2011 with the creation of traditional medicine herbal units within hospitals. This, along with other factors, has led some scholars to consider the government’s efforts as “tokenistic.” The issue, however, is that the authors do not fully explain why this is the case. Through an investigation that relied on scholarly literature, Ghanaian government policy documents, World Health Organization (WHO) strategies, and news articles, I found the following: (1) the Ghanaian government likely did use the WHO strategies when developing their policies; (2) most healers are in favor of an integrated healthcare system; (3) the government did not appear to fully consider the needs of healers and their viewpoints when creating their policies. This lack of consideration relates to why the efforts of the government appear only tokenistic and do not address the needs of all demographics. Auyero’s “patient model” and Menjívar and Abrego’s “legal violence” frameworks can be used to hypothesize why the government may have allowed these barriers to remain during implementation.