Healthcare workers are calling on government to provide HIV-testing equipment and training to traditional healers to increase their capacity in the battle against HIV/Aids.
At a recent USAid-sponsored workshop for healthcare practitioners in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, Dimakatso Malakoane of non-profit organisation HIV/Aids in South Africa (HIV SA), said the government needed to build partnerships with traditional healers to complement their work, particularly on HIV-related matters.
Healthcare workers also want all new information on the disease to be distributed to traditional healers, who see substantial number of patients, to ensure they are updated on developments.
Malakoane said it was important to improve healers’ knowledge about HIV/Aids prevention and treatment issues. This could help avoid a clash in traditional and modern medical support to communities.
“Some of their medication boosts the effects of modern treatment. Enlightening and improving [traditional healers’] awareness of modern treatments will be mutually reinforcing, improve the efficacy of modern medicines and reduce chances of the healers administering medicines that flush out modern clinical treatment,” Malakoane added.
She also called on peer educators to impart skills on how to deal with behaviour change, cultural taboos and social diversity, all of which hindered the adoption of protective measures against the diseases.
Malakoane said although the incidence of the disease was stabilising in older age groups due to increased awareness and treatment, there was an increasing prevalence among younger people.
More training was also required to deal with stigma, which tended to make those who are infected withhold disclosure of their status.
An environment enabling disclosure would make it easier for couples to go for HIV tests together and would improve the impact and success rate of HIV counselling, training and outreach programmes.
– Caxton News Service