6 September 2006

Zimbabwe: N'angas Empowered to Give Off Days

Harare — GOVERNMENT has given traditional healers permission to give their patients off days from work in the same manner that medical doctors do.

The Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr Edwin Muguti made the announcement in Harare last week during the commemoration of the Fourth African Traditional Medicine Day, but made it clear that the off days should not exceed a week.

He stipulated that only traditional medical practitioners registered with the Traditional Medical Practitioners Council would be able to give patients off days.

At least 1 500 traditional medical practitioners have been registered with the council so far.

Dr Muguti said a sick person also had a right to ask their medical doctor to give them time to seek the assistance of a traditional medical practitioner if there was no improvement in their condition.

"It has become obvious that conventional medicines are not the "be all" of medicine for if they were, why else would we still have HIV, BP, asthma, all of which have no cure.

"It is important that we encourage our traditional medical practitioners and conventional doctors to work together for the benefit of our people.

"The medical doctor should even be in a position to refer their patient to the n'anga and muporofita when they realise that there is nothing new they can offer them," Dr Muguti said.

The African Traditional Medicine Day ran under the theme "Scaling up Collaboration between traditional health practitioners and conventional health practitioners in the prevention of HIV and Aids" -- which is in line with the commitment made by the African Union and United Nations on 11 April 2006 as a follow up to the Declaration of the year 2006 as the year for Acceleration of HIV prevention in the region.

Traditional medicines have been found to be effective in managing infections associated with HIV and lately African countries have been increasing efforts to develop traditional medicines.

Dr Muguti also warned traditional medical practitioners against misleading people.

His call comes at a time when some practitioners, particularly faith healers, are claiming to be able to cure Aids. There has been an increase in the flighting of such advertisements on national television lately with some people expressing concern about it.

Echoing the similar sentiments, chairperson of the Traditional Medical Practitioners Council Professor Claude Mararike said it was irresponsible for people to claim that they could treat Aids.

"This is tarnishing our image as traditional medical practitioners and faith healers and it is not fair. We shall speak to the television people to refuse to flight such messages for they are misleading desperate people.

"As traditional healers we want to assist people not to dupe them but it seems there are some who do not mind duping people. We have a code of ethics governing our operations and it is important that if one wants to be recognised they are guided by those ethics," he said.

It is now illegal for one to practice as a traditional medical practitioner without registering with the council.

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