Integration for coexistence? Implementation of intercultural health care policy in Ghana from the perspective of service users and providers

Razak Mohammed Gyasi*, Adjoa Afriyie Poku, Simon Boateng, Padmore Adusei Amoah, Alhassan Abdul Mumin, Jacob Obodai, Williams Agyemang-Duah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Objective In spite of the World Health Organization's recommendations over the past decades, Ghana features pluralistic rather than truly integrated medical system. Policies about the integration of complementary medicine into the national health care delivery system need to account for individual-level involvement and cultural acceptability of care rendered by health care providers. Studies in Ghana, however, have glossed over the standpoint of the persons of the illness episode about the intercultural health care policy framework. This paper explores the health care users, and providers’ experiences and attitudes towards the implementation of intercultural health care policy in Ghana. Methods In-depth interviews, augmented with informal conversations, were conducted with 16 health service users, 7 traditional healers and 6 health professionals in the Sekyere South District and Kumasi Metropolis in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Data were thematically analysed and presented based on the a posteriori inductive reduction approach. Results Findings reveal a widespread positive attitude to, and support for integrative medical care in Ghana. However, inter-provider communication in a form of cross-referrals and collaborative mechanisms between healers and health professionals seldom occurs and remains unofficially sanctioned. Traditional healers and health care professionals are skeptical about intercultural health care policy mainly due to inadequate political commitment for provider education. The medical practitioners have limited opportunity to undergo training for integrative medical practice. We also find a serious mistrust between the practitioners due to the “diversity of healing approaches and techniques.” Weak institutional support, lack of training to meet standards of practice, poor registration and regulatory measures as well as negative perception of the integrative medical policy inhibit its implementation in Ghana. Conclusion In order to advance any useful intercultural health care policy in Ghana, the government's total commitment in informed training and provider education, enforcement of regulatory instrument and improved community engagement is needed. Evidence-based incorporation of traditional medical therapies into clinical practice will provide safer, faster and more effective health care for the underserved and resource-poor, particularly in the rural areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-55
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of integrative medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Ghana
  • integrative medicine
  • intercultural health care policy
  • interview
  • perspectives


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