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IRIN PlusNews HIV/AIDS News and information service | Southern Africa | MOZAMBIQUE: Newspapers in hot seat over AIDS cure ads | Care Treatment, Media, Stigma Human rights Law | News Items
Tuesday 21 February 2006
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MOZAMBIQUE: Newspapers in hot seat over AIDS cure ads

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

©  Alfredo Mueche/IRIN

Many people consult traditional healers

MAPUTO, 1 February (PLUSNEWS) - The poorly regulated traditional medicine industry is attracting ever larger numbers of clients with newspaper advertisements that make extravagant claims.

"Traditional doctor, with experience in Africa and Europe, now with African antiretrovirals for cure of AIDS, tuberculosis, asthma, haemorrhage, fungus, anaemia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, paralysis, and for solutions of problems, such as bad luck, divorce, jobs, luck and career advancement" reads one.

Some newspapers, like the independent weekly 'Savana', are refusing to carry these adverts. "We do not publish such statements without the appropriate scientific qualifications. As part of the movement to fight HIV/AIDS, we cannot accept publicity that deceives people," Savana's editor, Fernando Gonçalves, told PlusNews.

Aurélio Morais, spokesman for The Mozambican Association of Traditional Medicine (AMETRAMO), echoed Gonçalves' position: "Any traditional doctor who claims that he or she can cure AIDS is a charlatan. Before placing an advertisement, a person who can cure AIDS should meet with us to discuss and, above all, share with us his experiences."

Morais called for an end to this type of publicity, saying, "it's one thing for a traditional healer to advertise his address and services, but to categorically state that he or she cures AIDS is another."

AMETRAMO has trained its members in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS to complement Western medicine.

Almiro Santos, director of the weekly sports paper 'Desafio', stressed that not all healers were guilty of exaggeration. Those who could successfully treat HIV/AIDS-related illnesses should be supported, and not confused with those advertising miracle cures, "because there are opportunists", he warned.

Alexandre Chiure, Maputo editorial representative of the morning paper 'Diário de Moçambique', was more cautious about an outright ban on such advertisements, as they contributed to the survival of the newspapers and offered a public service.

"We should not prohibit this type of publicity, because there are people who are interested in traditional medicine; our people - maybe most of them - were born and grew up with these practices and they believe in them," he argued.

The lack of legal instruments to regulate the practice of traditional medicine allows false publicity to continue.

Felisbela Gaspar, a biologist with the National Health Institute's department of medicinal plants and traditional medicine studies, commented, "Although the traditional doctors should be able to advertise about the areas they work in, to say that they cure AIDS, besides being dishonest, is playing with people's lives."

The National AIDS Council (NAC) has also raised concerns about newspapers encouraging false claims and deputy executive director Diogo Milagre has called on government to intervene.

Although there is no consensus among the newspapers, "the matter is pricking the conscience of editors - I am not seeing so many of those advertisements as before," Fernando Gonçalves noted.

But on the streets of Maputo, placards touting so-called experts promising to cure anything from sexual impotence to HIV/AIDS, gonorrhoea and diabetes, are still a common sight.


Recent MOZAMBIQUE Reports
MSF to ensure sustainability of ARV programme,  17/Jan/06
Steady progress as ARV rollout gathers momentum,  4/Jan/06
New campaign brings hope of a better future to OVC,  18/Nov/05
AIDS activists develop successful strategies against stigma,  31/Oct/05
Economic security is a challenge for ARV patients,  28/Jul/05
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance

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