South Africa: Science and Technology Hosts Conference On Traditional Birth Attendants in Durban

Following a call from traditional birth attendants (TBAs) for the government to recognise them, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in partnership with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) will host a ground-breaking conference on traditional birth attendance in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal from 5 to 6 June.

Taking place under the theme “Restoring African dignity through traditional birth attendants”, the conference will draw TBAs and representatives of various institutions from all the nine provinces.

While the majority of the country’s births take place in hospitals, traditional birth attendance continues to play a significant role in the lives of many rural communities, and forms an important part of indigenous knowledge-based sexual and reproductive health care systems. Despite this, the practice continues to suffer widespread marginalisation.

The DST is the custodian of the Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Bill. The draft law, which is expected to be enacted by the sixth Parliament, paves the way for the protection and development of South Africa’s vast treasure trove of indigenous knowledge.

As part of mainstreaming indigenous knowledge, there is a need to recognise traditional birth attendance as a professional discipline with its own institutions, governance structures, and approaches to quality assurance. Doing this will affirm the discipline as a knowledge domain in its own right, thus helping to restore African dignity.

The two-day conference, which includes a workshop, aims to lay the foundation for mapping the knowledge and skills of TBAs, and developing norms and standards against which their competencies can be assessed, thereby contributing to the formal recognition of the discipline.

Issued by: Department of Science and Technology


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