Traditional Healers and HIV+ Networks Strengthen Locally Generated Research
The Culture, HIV and AIDS project is working throughout the 2010-2011 biennium to engage Traditional Healers’ Associations in sub-Saharan Africa, together with HIV+ Networks and Researchers/Research Institutions, in order to: promote (intercultural) dialogue between these groups and strengthen possible collaboration; and strengthen an enabling environment for locally generated research.
Given the shortage of anti-retroviral treatment in most African countries coupled with the importance of traditional healers (who are frequented by up to 80% of the population, often in addition to biomedical doctors), the project will work to:
a) highlight complementarity between traditional healing and modern medical and health infrastructure;
b) address the issue of inaccurate information about HIV and AIDS; and
c) strengthen the positive role that traditional healing plays in regard to counseling and guidance for those affected, especially people who may not have easy access to health facilities in their countries.
HIV+ Networks are important stakeholders in responding to the epidemic, in that they are strong advocates against stigma and discrimination and in favor of evidence-based information about the infection and treatment options. In addition, they are crucial sources for information on the needs and problems that HIV+ individuals face in a specific cultural and structural context. Traditional Healers’ Associations also work in support of evidence-based information about HIV and AIDS while at the same time pursuing recognition for the crucial role they play in providing psychological relief and guidance to patients. Finally, there is an underrepresentation of research that is informed by local priorities and generated within African cultural settings. Coordinating the work of
Traditional Healers’ Associations and HIV+ Networks with local research agendas will help close this gap, while at the same time enhancing the countries’ ability to respond to the epidemic comprehensively.