Cameroon: Traditional Healers As Best Messengers in HIV/Aids Fight

Traditional healers have been identified as the best messengers in the prevention, care and reduction of stigmatisation in HIV/AIDS patients. It is against this background that a three-day interactive training of trainers seminar on the traditional healers self-proficiency training, known as the FAPEG method was organised by the Promotion of Traditional Medicine Association, PROMETRA, and the Ford Foundation. GA_googleFillSlot( "AllAfrica_Story_InsetA" );   Speaking during the ceremony, the President of PROMETRA Cameroon, Dr. Fai Fominyen, stated that 80 percent of the population, according to statistics from the World Health Organisation, consult traditional healers. He said traditional healers are consulted first especially in communities, thereby making them key players in the prevention, care and reduction of stigmatisation. 

GA_googleCreateDomIframe('google_ads_div_AllAfrica_Story_InsetA' ,'AllAfrica_Story_InsetA'); Given the general believe that sickness, most often in villages, is associated with witchcraft, with patients sometimes conniving with traditional healers not to tell their families their serology status, healers are in the best position to orient patients to go to hospitals for their tests.

Fominyen underscored the importance of the FAPEG method, which he said encompasses natural family planning methods, malaria treatment and child delivery.One of the participants, Bernadette Menye, called for the abolition of widowhood rights. She said this is a major problem in communities where a husband dies of AIDS and the brother "washes the widow". She said in the process, not only is the brother contaminated but his wife too and the whole family may be wiped out. She lamented that during this time, the wife is treated as the witch who has killed her husband and brother. Besides, participants raised the issue of traditional autopsy performed on a corpse which exposes such persons to diseases. 

Infidelity was equally identified as a major vector of the spread of HIV/AIDS.Healers were encouraged to use one razor bled for a patient as well as other tools like fruits. In collaboration with the international scientific committee and PROMETRA Atlanta, USA, Dr Fominyen argued that research was carried out to ascertain the values of some five medicinal plants. He said PROMETRA is made up of Biologist, pathologists amongst others and not just healers. Workshop participants reiterated the need for more sensitisation and educative talks for youths and the importance of knowing the serology status before marriage. The about 50 healers from the 10 provinces, therefore, would ensure the relay of the training in their respective areas and would equally serve as consultants for traditional rulers.

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