Sangomas: certified to hand out condoms to fight HIV

2012-09-24 00:00

SEXUALLY active people are hampering the fight against HIV/Aids by not using prevention methods such as condoms and male circumcision, deputy manager of KZN Medical Male Circumcision S.E. Mthembu said on Saturday.

Mthembu was speaking at the launch of the Traditional Health Practitioner Integration Initiative in Sweetwaters. The launch saw 120 traditional healers from uMgungundlovu and uThukela districts graduate as certified counsellors.

They received 10 days of training at different health institutions in the Integration of TB in Education and Care for HIV/AIDS (Iteach) programme.

The Iteach initiative is a privately-funded programme in KZN whose multiple activities aim to improve delivery of care and treatment for persons infected with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. The programme seeks to educate and empower communities, medical professionals and patients alike.

Mthembu said the traditional healers had a significant role to play in fighting the scourge of HIV/Aids. He conceded that the methods of prevention — use of condoms and medical male circumcision — rather than cure, had not reached the levels they had hoped.

Without giving the statistics, he said: “We have learned that less than half of the [sexually active] people are actually using condoms, we also know that the number of male circumcisions is below the targets that we had hoped to achieve.”

Mthembu called on the traditional healers to play a meaningful role in the fight against diseases as they had significant influence. He said 80% of the people being treated for diseases first consulted a traditional healer before consulting a doctor.

He said one of the strategies that would be employed is for traditional healers to distribute condoms in their surgeries.

Deli Mthimkhulu of the Iteach programme said the certificates for the traditional healers did not mean they would now work in healthcare facilities, but would allow them to counsel their patients at their own premises.

• The total number of persons living with HIV in SA is estimated at 5,38 million in 2011. Parts of KZN have HIV rates that are more than the national average.

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