Ancient remedies, new disease: involving traditional healers by Rachel King

By Rachel King

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Extra resources for Ancient remedies, new disease: involving traditional healers in increasing access to AIDS care and prevention in East Africa

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We get condoms from Kavuma, the healer. —Community member, THETA Evaluation Report, 1998 The community is now consulting us on condoms and AIDS-related information. Even the clergy is beginning to consult us. —Trained healer, Kamuli Status Report, 2000 In one THETA district, the proportion of healers who reported discussing condoms with clients increased from 68% to 90% after the THETA training. One Kampala healer, Musa Mutebi, talked about his experience in condom distribution: Clients come to me with physical and spiritual problems.

However, he has recently been in an accident and cannot walk, so his community has been disappointed that he no longer has condoms to give away. It is mostly the youth who come to ask for condoms, but he also noted that, ‘The big men also come asking me for condoms’. Healers counsel their patients Traditional healers who have learned about the benefits of AIDS counselling, have quickly integrated their new skills into their old practices. In all the THETA districts, traditional healers have appreciated learning about AIDS counselling and are applying it in helping to diagnose patients’ problems, as well as supporting clients in prevention of HIV and care for PLWHA and their family members.

This has encouraged openness and referral not only around HIV and AIDS, but for many other health issues. As an example, one healer noted that: THETA has taught us about TB and HIV/AIDS. We never knew that TB is spread through inhaled air. THETA has taught us about condoms and their use. They revealed to us every method in the spread of HIV/AIDS. —Traditional healer, Kiboga, THETA Evaluation Report, 1998 One biomedical health worker described trained healers’ work: Traditional healers carry out home visits to their clients, which is not common among medical workers.

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