KwaZulu-Natal Health, together with a non-governmental organisation called Integration of TB in Education and Care for HIV and Aids (I-TEACH), have embarked on a campaign to train thousands of traditional healers to conduct HIV/Aids tests on their clients, reports SABC News. The department hopes this initiative will help slow the spread of the virus. To date, over 450 traditional healers have graduated from the programme.
According to I-Teach, four in ten people are infected with the HI virus and the organisation hopes to reduce these figures by teaching traditional healers to test their clients for HIV/Aids.
I-TEACH says training traditional healers has played a role in reducing the spread of the disease. I-TEACH programme manager Deli Mthimkhulu says the traditional healers are given full testing kits. “Some of the participants, they are not going to the clinics especially men. So, it is where we identify the gap that the traditional healers who are being trained, they are supposed to do these testing as well in their home practices. So, now we are piloting the research where the traditional healers will conduct the HIV testing in the community.”
KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sbongiseni Dhlomo says they do not want to discredit traditional healers, but want to work with them as many people believe in traditional healers. “We want to encourage our health care professionals to write back to the traditional healers and tell them , yes you made a good diagnosis this was TB, not idliso alone, so when we treat our people and also recognising symptoms of HIV, our traditional healers are now able to actually recognise, so most of the time now we have been able to teach them how to do a testing and check HIV, so I think this partnership is helping us a lot because we are now able to down refer patients that are on treatment from our hospitals and clinics and they are being taken care of by our traditional healers.”SABC News report