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WHO Regional Director for Africa, Ugandan Health Minister Urge Traditional Health Workers To Help Prevent HIV/AIDS
World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa Director Luis Sambo on Wednesday to mark African Traditional Medicine Day said governments should strengthen the role of traditional health practitioners in HIV/AIDS prevention, the SAPA/News24.com reports (SAPA/News24.com, 8/31). The day -- which had the theme "African traditional medicine: contribution to preventing HIV" -- also was commemorated by Ugandan Minister of Health Jim Muhwezi, who called on traditional health workers to improve community participation in prevention programs. "In Africa, up to 80% of the population use traditional medicine to help meet its health care needs," Muhwezi said, adding, "[T]raditional health practitioners are well integrated into the communities, and they are major stakeholders in the health prevention of Uganda and Africa at large" (Xinhua/People's Daily Online, 9/1). Sambo said traditional health workers could analyze certain rituals and beliefs, such as circumcision and tattooing, that use nonsterilized equipment. He added that traditional birth attendants could be trained in obstetric techniques to ensure safe birth practices and minimum exposure to blood during delivery, and they could teach women about safe sexual practices, including condom use. "WHO will provide clear guidance on actions to be taken by countries, advocate for sustained financial resources for HIV prevention, develop partnership with civil society networks and community- and faith-based organizations, and provide support to ministries of health to strengthen health systems and document and disseminate best practices in HIV prevention," Sambo said (WHO release, 8/31). Muhwezi said the Ugandan government "is in the final stages of developing a national policy on traditional and complementary medicine" that will be "crucial in defining the role of traditional medicine in the national health care delivery systems" (Xinhua/People's Daily Online, 9/1).
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