It always becomes a nightmare when Africans look for a match to cure blood-related diseases because only 10% of donors are of African descent.
Their refusal to donate has always been attributed to their spiritual beliefs, which makes it difficult for them to find donors.
According to the World Cancer Watch, more than 100,000 South Africans are diagnosed with cancer each year, while one in 11 cancer patients is diagnosed with blood cancer.
Dr Gary Sopher, director of oncology at Novartis South Africa, said it was imperative that people get regular check-ups for early detection.
“Blood cancer remains a serious disease, but the good news for patients is that positive progress is being made,” Sopher said. “So your wisest course of action is to seek medical assistance and [to] make the necessary checks as soon as possible.
Speaking from the perspective of African spirituality, Makhosi Nomabutho, founder of the Sangoma Society, said cultural misconceptions around blood stem cell donation deter South Africans from donating.
“Many people are cautious with their blood and blood stem cells because these contain the essence of your DNA and can be used to siphon off your strength, so they might be reluctant to donate,” Nomabutho said.
“I don’t want to be in a position that a lot of people find themselves in, of not knowing where they’re going to find a donor, because there’s no money or influence that can change a person’s diagnosis. – only more donors of African ancestry box.
“If there is medicine that lives in the blood and bones that were lent to me by my ancestors, why shouldn’t I use it to heal and help another person live?”
Nomabutho added that there is a need for Western doctors and traditional healers to work together and refer patients to each other.
“With between 60% and 80% of South Africans seeing a traditional healer before seeing a primary health care practitioner, we have a responsibility to work holistically with them, which also means educating and guiding them in the right direction to get treatment. Just as the work of traditional healers is the work of God, so is medical science.
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