By Rachel King
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Extra info for Ancient remedies, new disease: involving traditional healers in increasing access to AIDS care and prevention in East Africa
She specializes in treating impotence, miscarriages and jaundice. Since the beginning of THETA training in May 2000, Gertrude has learnt how to take better care of her herbs, and herself. She now discourages sharing sharp instruments and razor blades in her ‘clinic’. “I have learnt a lot about HIV/AIDS and other STIs, how to prevent them and care for patients, and also how to use condoms,” she says. Gertrude describes a typical scenario with her clients: “As the patients come to my clinic, I first take particulars of where they are from, their age and family background.
Training is spread over 18 months, with the first six focusing on information sharing, and the last 12 emphasizing collaboration and skill development. Training targets traditional healers as well as biomedical health practitioners, the Community Monitoring Committee and Community Interviewers. Monitoring and evaluation of the process takes place throughout the cycle. Post-training follow-up is conducted through quarterly visits and through the support provided by the CMC and CIs. Impact and sustainability are assessed through participatory evaluations.
In addition, sometimes healers do not like to see other healers appear more knowledgeable or powerful than themselves. Healer organizations and associations THETA-trained healers in Kiboga have formed an association—KITHETA—that includes health workers, community leaders and non-THETA healers to strengthen their activities. They have links with the district departments and they have opened up an office for counselling and herbal treatment. Improved services have led to increased numbers of clients and, thus, increased household incomes.