30 April 2007

Uganda: Medics Trained in Acupuncture

Kampala — A team of Canadian and American acupuncturists are in the country to train rural health workers on how to use acupuncture to treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria symptoms.

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical technique in which needles are inserted into a particular part of the body to heal a sickness.

The training, which started on April 24 at Ruhoko Health Centre and Ibanda Hospital, attracted 36 participants from Isingiro, Kabarole and Ibanda districts.

The lead trainer, Richard Mandell, explained that after the training, the participants will be able to treat symptoms like abdominal, knee and chest pain, enlarged spleen due to malaria, anxiety, constipation, cough, persistent head aches, insomnia and vomiting.

"Some of the symptoms are associated with the drugs used in treatment. I realised there was a need for people to receive treatment in a safe and effective way.

"This is a simplified version of acupuncture, meant to increase access to treatment," Mandell said. Mandell, who is also the director of the United States-based Pan-African Acupuncture Project, revealed that 120 medical workers in Mbale, Kampala, Mbarara, Masaka, and Ibanda districts have been trained since 2003.

Allen Magezi, the programme coordinator, noted that they are collaborating with the Ministry of Health to integrate acupuncture treatment into the health sector.

"We are also in touch with Makerere University's department of Public Health to integrate acupuncture training in their syllabus."

Happy Annet, a midwife and acupuncturist at Ruhoko Health Centre, said they use acupuncture to stimulate contractions for expectant mothers experiencing labour pains.

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