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
The healer referred her and she is now improving on a combined traditional medicine/biomedicine treatment. He has found that many patients with HIV-related conditions have been helped by both oral and topical herbal therapies. And healers have been good about following up with these patients to see if they are improving or getting worse. He has found the greatest challenges in this collaboration have been that health workers do not have access to healers and that untrained healers do not refer patients.
With the support of the National AIDS Control Programme and the Uganda AIDS Commission, together with The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)4, THETA’s work started in 1992 with two pilot projects based in Kampala. The first project aimed at evaluating traditional herbal treatments for some specific AIDS symptoms. The second project tested the effect of empowering traditional healers as STI/AIDS educators and counsellors through training. Overall, these two projects, which lasted three years, yielded very encouraging results.
It has also published booklets, training kits, two informational/educational videos and a newsletter with a readership of over 500. 4 TASO is a Ugandan NGO started by PLWHA, their relatives and friends, who pioneered AIDS care and support in the mid-1980s. TASO is now active all over Uganda and has become a model and a main source of training that can be emulated in the region and the continent. Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) is an international humanitarian nongovernmental organization dedicated to assisting populations in danger due to natural or manmade disasters.