Student Lead: Sanewal Singh

Project title: Traditional medicine dynamics among older persons in a resource poor setting

Irrespective of the dominance of western medicine (WM) in health delivery systems across the world, millions of people in several low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), such as Ghana, continue to rely on traditional medicine (TM) for treating illnesses. Understanding the use of TM in Ghana is a complex topic due to the various intertwining factors such as cost, availability, access, socioeconomic status, and sociocultural factors, which influence the use of TM.  Herein, the objective of Sanewal’s thesis were twofold: (1) to further the understanding of factors that drive the use of TM among elderly individuals in Ghana, and (2) to investigate whether a shift in prevalence of TM use exists. Using Rosenstock’s Health Belief Model as a theoretical framework, and seventeen in-depth interviews, Sanewal’s thesis examined the perceptions and motivations surrounding the use of TM among elderly residents located in the Upper West Region of Ghana. Thematic analysis of the interviews indicated that the use of TM is still pervasive despite the increasing availability of WM. The findings suggest that factors including availability of TM as a sociocultural commodity, health perceptions and health-seeking behaviours, and other modifying factors are all influential in driving the continued use of TM. Contrary to previous literature, the dependency on TM as the sole form of medication may no longer be prominent, rather an increase in WM use may be inevitable.