The Concoction

An Ethiopian woman's musings on Africa, the world and everything in between

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        Monday, April 03, 2006
        Bizarre concoction for relief from HIV/AIDS

        I cannot quite let go of the mandatory AIDS testing that Clinton is pushing. I was thinking in places where the doctor-people ratio is 1:33,000 where as the traditional healer-patient ratio is 1:156 (such a place really exists – Tanga in Tanzania), are traditional healers going to use a more bizarre concoction of veggie strips, some roots, some curious liquid and anti-AIDS medicine? Also, is there going to be a crush course for traditional healers on how to prescribe the medicine?

        This is not so bizarre, actually. IRIN knows of such concoction that is recognaized internationally. In Tanga, Tanzania, a stew of veggies, roots and “brownish liquid” - yaaam - is miraculously (for ‘modern’ medicine and science obsessed) is giving patients relief from infections often associated with HIV infection. It must be working very well for medical doctors to acknowledge its importance.

        "A lot of patients are getting relief from these medicines," Dr Justin Nguma, an HIV/AIDS specialist with over 20 years experience in Tanzania, said. "We don't know exactly what these medicines may have that is providing this relief but there is some research that is going on and, before long, we'll be able to know what it is."

        This powerful concoction is the discovery of a ‘traditional’ healer who works for a ‘modern’ hospital. Because this stew is working, there exists in Tanga the collaboration between‘modern’ screening and counseling with traditional healers. The UN has also given it its blessing.
        Similarly, in a 2002 case-study, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) described the work of the Tanga AIDS Working Group as "an outstanding example of how positive results can be achieved in the fight against AIDS by using local, culturally relevant expertise and resources to provide low-cost care and prevention for people living with AIDS."

        The World Bank is all over it as well.
        The million dollar question is how do you taste all the bizzar brews and stews throughout Africa, and how do you control really harmful/useless traditional remedies? Doctors for Life opposes the use of traditional healers when the medical system of a country fails or is inadequate. They claim that each year, 10,000 to 20,000 South Africans die due to poisining by traditional medicines. Would the UN and the World Bank recommend incorporating such traditional treatments in Africa? Is Clinton including the effective traditional stew as medicine, which are only a fraction of the price of 'modern' medicine against the so called opportunistic infections?

        I will stop my endless questions about this, and leave you with some interesting alternative ways to battle HIV/AIDS. I have no clue what works and doesn’t, but it is interesting to learn that African traditional healers, who are once looked down upon are now becoming important partners on the fight against HIV/AIDS. Another interesting fact is that using herbal medicine in the West and East are not really frowned upon. The Chinese, for example are big on herbs which actually are fashionable in the West (green tea, ginger etc). The World Health Organization has an interesting article on the background of herbal treatments

        What's out there?

        From South Africa(recommended by the Minister of Health – honestly! He so blieves in the following treatment for AIDS patients that he allegedly barred Treatment Action Campaign - an NGO - from participating in UN discussions)

        Beet root
        Vitamin pills
        A plant called (Sutherlandia – not included by the MoH)

        From Zambia (WHO involved – source

        3 out of 14 herbs were going to be tried on people in 2005.

        Supporting traditional concoction
        American Jewish World Service


        University of Penssylvania's involvement
        posted by Fikirte @ 12:57 PM   Digg!
        • name<="c114796264390876418" id="c114796264390876418">

          At 10:30 AM, Blogger HIV+DaveyBoy said…

          Seeking other HIV+/AIDS status people to chat about dealing with being "POZ", please drop in and visit me on ;)

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