Western, traditional doctors share notes

Monday, March 29, 2010

Durban - In an effort to combat HIV and AIDS, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health and traditional practitioners have met to discuss new and innovative ways to combat the disease,

The forum also discussed ways of improving working relations between government and traditional practitioners, circumcision and responsible sexual behavior.

More than 1000 traditional practitioners from the province have received basic training on how to recognise signs and symptoms of possible HIV, tuberculosis and other infections.

Doreen Madonisa Buthelezi, a trainer and sangoma in Durban, said the partnership between traditional practitioners and government was "empowering and powerful".

"I can tell you that the traditional practitioners are very positive about their training. They have benefited immensely and so have I," she said.

The department's director of traditional medicine, Isaac Mayeng, said government is seeing to it that support structures are established to ensure synergy between traditional practitioners and western medicine.

"We are looking at what works in western medicine in terms of procedure and we want to adapt that in traditional healing. We are aiming for collaboration, referrals from traditional practitioners and capacity building," said Mayeng.

He said government has identified areas in which traditional healing processes can be streamlined so that it can be integrated as a discipline in the national healthcare system.

He said KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Free State and Mpumalanga provinces are well ahead in promoting collaboration between traditional and western medicine.

But Mayeng said stigmatisation around traditional medicine still persists.

"By training traditional practitioners and raising awareness like we are doing now, we can deal with this issue," he added.