Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Traditional Healers and Western Medicine: The Challenge of Addressing Malaysia’s Cancer Burden through Collaboration

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Asian Journal of Social Science

Abstract Developing countries share a disproportionate burden of late-stage cancer presentation and cancer-related deaths. This burden is often a function of an inadequately resourced healthcare system along with easier access to and preference for traditional healers. In Malaysia, traditional healers are so embedded in the culture that they are often the first and sometimes only source of cancer information and treatment. The purpose of this qualitative study was to assess the willingness and the means by which Malay traditional healers and Western cancer specialists might work collaboratively in addressing the country’s cancer burden. Interviews were conducted in urban and rural areas of Peninsular Malaysia with 14 Malay traditional healers known for treating cancer and with 12 cancer specialists. Findings from traditional healers suggest that there is a range of receptiveness for working with the Western medical system, with Islamic healers being the most receptive. Medical doctors readily acknowledged the presence of traditional healers and their personal willingness to cooperate; however, cooperation was conditional depending on the nature of the healer’s practice, the timing of the healer’s intervention, and the instituting of government oversight/regulation. Suggestions for fostering interaction and implications for healthcare policy are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: University of Georgia and Universiti Putra Malaysia


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

1. Adib S. M. "“From the biomedical model to the Islamic alternative: a brief overview of medical practices in the contemporary Arab world”" Social Science and Medicine 2004 Vol 58 697 702
2. Anderson B. O. , Yip C. H. , Ramsey S. D. , Bengoa R. , Braun S. , Fitch M. , Groot M. , Sancho-Garnier H. , Tsu V. D. "“Breast cancer in limited-resource countries: Health care systems and public policy”" The Breast Journal 2006 Vol 12 Suppl. 1 S54 S69
3. Ariff K. M. , Beng K. S. "“Cultural health beliefs in a rural family practice: A Malaysian perspective”" Australian Journal of Rural Health 2006 Vol 14 2 8
4. Broom A. , Torvey P. "“Inter-professional conflict and strategic alliance between traditional healers and oncologists in Pakistan”" Asian Journal of Social Science 2007 Vol 35 608 625
5. Corbin J. , Strauss A. Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory 2007 3rd edition Thousand Oaks, CA Sage
6. Coughlin S. S. , Ekwueme D. U. "“Breast cancer as a global health concern”" Cancer Epidemiology 2009 Vol 33 315 318
7. Dye T. D. , Bogale S. , Hobden C. , Tilahun Y. , Hechter V. , Deressa T. , Bize M. , Reeler A. "“Complex care systems in developing countries”" Cancer 2010 Vol 116 3 577 585
8. Heggenhougen H. K. "“Bomohs, doctors and sinsehs — Medical pluralism in Malaysia”" Social Sciences and Medicine 1980 Vol 148 235 244
9. Helman C. G. Culture, health and illness 2007 5th edition New York Oxford University Press
10. Hock T. E. "“More hospitals get traditional medicine units”" Malaysian Times 2009 October 7
11. Jayaraj P. "“Regulation of traditional and complementary medicinal products in Malaysia”" International Journal of Green Pharmacy 2010 Vol 4 1 10 14
12. Kayombo E. J. , Uiso F. C. , Mbwambo Z. H. , Mahunnah R. L. , Moshi M. J. , Mgonda Y. H. "“Experience of initiating collaboration of traditional healers in managing HIV and AIDS in Tanzania”" Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2007 Vol 3 6 6 16
13. Malik I. A. , Khan N. A. , Khan W. "“Use of unconventional methods of therapy by cancer patients in Pakistan”" European Journal of Epidemiology 2000 Vol 16 155 160
14. Mcmillen H. "“The adapting healer: Pioneering through shifting epidemiological and sociocultural landscapes”" Social Science and Medicine 2004 Vol 59 889 902
15. Merriam S. B. Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation 2009 San Francisco Jossey-Bass/Wiley
16. Mills E. , Singh S. , Wilson K. , Peters E. , Onia R. , Kanfer I. "“The challenges of involving traditional healers in HIV/AIDS care”" International Journal of STD and AIDS 2006 Vol 17 6 360 363
17. Muller A. , Steyn M. "“Culture and the feasibility of a partnership between Westernized medical practitioners and traditional healers”" Society in Transition 1999 Vol 30 2 143 156
18. Omar Z. A. , Mohd. Ali Z. , Ibrahim Tamin N. S. Malaysian cancer statistics — Data and figures for Peninsular Malaysia, 2006 2006 National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health, Malaysia
19. Pal S. K. , Mittal B. "“Fight against cancer in countries with limited resources: The post-genomic era scenario”" Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention 2004 Vol 5 328 333
20. Parsa P. , Andiah M. , Rahman A. , Zulkefli M. "“Barriers for breast cancer screening among Asian women: A mini literature review”" Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention 2006 Vol 7 509 514
21. Patton M. Q. Qualitative research and evaluation methods. 2002 3rd edition Thousand Oaks, CA Sage
22. Poudyal A. K. , Jimba M. , Murakami I. , Silwl R. C. , Wakai S. , Kuratsuji T. "“A traditional healers’ training model in rural Nepal: Strengthening their roles in community health”" Tropical Medicine and International Health 2003 Vol 8 10 956 960
23. Razali S. M. "“Integrating Malay Traditional Healers into primary health care services in Malaysia: It is feasible?”" International Medical Journal 2009 Vol 16 1 13 17
24. Razali S. M. , Najib M. A. M. "“Help-seeking pathways among Malay psychiatric patients”" International Journal of Social Psychiatry 2000 Vol 46 4 281 289
25. Ross E. "“Traditional healing in South Africa: Ethical implications for social work”" Social Work in Health Care 2008 Vol 46 2 15 33
26. Shaikh B. T. , Hatcher J. "“Complementary and alternative medicine in Pakistan: Prospects and limitations”" Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2005 Vol 2 2 139 142
27. Shimobiraki C. , Jimba M. "“Traditional vs. modern medicine: Which healthcare options do the rural Nepalese seek?”" Technology and Development 2002 Vol 15 47 55
28. Siti Z. M. , Tahir A. , Farah A. I. , Fazlin S. M. A. , Sondi S. , Azman A. H. , Maimunah A. H. , Haniza M. A. , Siti Haslinda M. D. , Zulkarnain A. K. , Zakiah I. , Wan Zaleha W. C. "“Use of traditional and complementary medicine in Malaysia: A baseline study”" Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2009 Vol 17 292 299
29. Ssali A. , Butler L. M. , Kabatesi D. , King R. "“Traditional healers for HIV/AIDS prevention and family planning, Kiboga district, Uganda: Evaluation of a program to improve practices”" AIDS and Behavior 2005 Vol 9 4 485 493
30. Tovey P. , Broom A. , Chatwin J. , Hafeez M. , Ahmad S. "“Patient assessment of effectiveness and satisfaction with traditional medicine, globalized complementary and alternative medicines, and allopathic medicines for cancer in Pakistan”" Integrative Cancer Therapies 2005 Vol 4 3 242 248
31. Waldram J. B. "“The efficacy of traditional medicine: Current theoretical and methodological issues”" Medical Anthropology Quarterly 2000 Vol 14 4 603 625
32. Werner R. Transcultural healing: The whole human. 1993 Kuala Lumpur University of Malaya Press
33. World Health Organization Traditional medicine strategy 2002–2005. 2002 Available at:
34. World Health Organization Preventing chronic diseases: A vital investment. 2005 Available at:
35. Yang R. C. , Mills P. K. , Riodan D. G. "“Cervical cancer among Hmong women in California, 1988 to 2000”" American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2004 Vol 27 2 132 138
36. Yip C. H. Hashim Z. , Sharif Z. , Muhamad M. "“Epidemiology of breast cancer in Malaysia”" Breast cancer in Malaysia: Issues and educational implications 2008 Serdang, MY Institute for Social Science Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia 1 18

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Asian Journal of Social Science — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation