Mozambique: HIV/Aids - New Training Manual for Traditional Healers

Maputo — Mozambique's Traditional Medicine Institute, an institution under the Health Ministry, is drawing a new training manual for practitioners of traditional medicine as part of its efforts to prevent and combat HIV/AIDS in the country.

The manual is document containing detailed information about care that both users and practitioners of traditional medicine will have to take into account as a means to prevent infection with HIV virus.

Felisbela Gaspar, head of the Traditional Medicine Institute, is cited by Mozambique's AIDS News Agency, as saying that the new manual will be in circulation in the country by the end of this month.

The manual will be distributed among more than 20,000 members of the Mozambique's Association of Traditional Doctors (AMETRAMO), across the country.

According to Gaspar, the manual is just one of several activities to be developed in the next few years by her institution to promote good practices in traditional medicine.

With this tool it is sought to raise awareness among traditional doctors about the need to avoid certain practices which are viewed as vehicles for the transmitting of HIV virus.

"There are some rituals in which traditional healers are called to perform, and in some cases they are required to take blood from their patients, which is done with their teeth posing a risk for HIV transmission", explained Gaspar.

Also, sharing and the lack of sterilization of sharp and piercing instruments like razor blades, syringes, needles and pins also pose great danger to both practitioners and users of traditional medicine.

Established in 2009, the Traditional Medicine Institute has set as its priorities for the first years training of traditional healers to act as role models for behavioural change within their communities.

Like most of African countries, traditional medicine is the primary source of health care in Mozambique, mainly in the rural areas.

The last National Survey on Prevalence, Behavioural Risks and Information on HIV/AIDS (INSIDA), released July 2010 shows that HIV prevalence in Mozambique is now 11.5 per cent among people aged between 15 and 49.

The survey is based on a sample of 6,232 households covering every district in the country.

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