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TANZANIA: Some local healers help relieve AIDS; others are charlatans

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

DAR ES SALAAM, 1 September (PLUSNEWS) - Government health officials in Tanzania acknowledged on Wednesday that services provided by many of the 75,000 registered local healers were beneficial to people living with HIV/AIDS, but the officials also warned that some healers were making false claims that they could cure the condition.

"We understand that there are some herbs that can treat opportunistic diseases like coughing, skin rashes, vomiting and diarrhoea but so far there is no HIV/AIDS cure," Hussein Mwinyi, the deputy health minister, told local healers rallying at the western town of Shinyanga for African Traditional and Alternative Medicine Day.

"The law and the government recognise your services but some of you cheat, give false hopes and operate in circumstances clouded in superstition," he said at the rally.

The rally followed a three-day exhibition on traditional and alternative medicine held under the auspices of the UN World Health Organization (WHO).

Seven percent of Tanzania’s two million people are HIV positive, according to a recent survey by the Tanzania Commission for AIDS. Many of them do not have access to health care.

Speakers at Wednesday’s rally praised the healers for their knowledge and skill. "We must work together in research for an HIV/AIDS cure, documenting plants and other concoctions that have medicinal value and if possible patent them," Edwin Mg'ong'o, a senior official in Tanzania's Ministry of Health, said at the rally.


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