11.10.2004 Regional News

Professor lauds contribution of herbalists in HIV/AIDS fight

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Ho, Oct 11, GNA- Prof Sekyi Amoa, Director-General of the Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), on Monday lauded the contribution of traditional medicine practitioners to the national effort to battle the HIV/AIDS menace.

He, however, pleaded with them to be circumspect with the announcements and advertisements they might want to make about their preparations for the treatment of the disease.

Prof Amoa said this in a speech read for him at the launch of training manuals in Akan and Ewe for traditional healers on HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted Diseases in Ho.

He said all health professionals in the orthodox and traditional sectors should collaborate to meet the challenge posed by HIV/AIDS.

"Every effort must be made to integrate the two fronts of the health profession," he told delegates mainly traditional medicine practitioners from the Volta Region.

He acknowledged the "lots of credible testimonies of therapeutic success in the practice" of traditional medicine and pledged the support of the GAC in their efforts especially testing the efficacy and potency of their preparations for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Prof Amoa said the average adult HIV-prevalence from Sentinel Surveillance Reports had increased gradually from 2.6 per cent in 1994 to 3.6 per cent in 2003.

He said eight cities in Ghana had prevalent rates of more than five per cent, "the internationally acknowledged level beyond which the epidemic tends to assume exponential dimensions".

The Association for the Promotion of Traditional Medicine (PROMETRA) Ghana developed the 95-page manual with funding from the GAC to bridge communication gap between policy makers on HIV/AIDS prevention and Traditional Healers.

Togbe Dabra VI, President of PROMETRA Ghana and Project Coordinator, said the experience in Uganda showed that there could be marked gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS if traditional healers were an integral part of the fight.

Mr Peter Arhin, Director of Traditional and Alternative Medicine Secretariat of the Ministry of Health (MOH) said a process of training, regulating and upgrading in the traditional medicine sector was going on.

He said the process would require that products from the traditional medical practitioners met certain standards that would make them compatible with general medical practice.

Togbega Gabusu VI, President of the Volta Region House of Chiefs, expressed regret at associating traditional medicine practice with the devil by modern day Christians.

He advised traditional healers to keep their premises neat and also provide hygienic services to their clients.

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