Indexed on: 15 Jan '05Published on: 15 Jan '05Published in: Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.)
In many resource-poor settings of Africa, a majority of people living with HIV/AIDS depend on and choose traditional healers for psychosocial counseling and health care. If the current pan-African prevention and care efforts spurred by the HIV pandemic do not actively engage African Traditional Medicine, they will effectively miss 80%, the vast majority of the African people who, according to the World Health Organization, rely on traditional medicine for their primary health care needs. In 2001, the Ugandan nongovernmental organization, Traditional and Modern Health Practitioners Together Against AIDS and Other Diseases, in Kampala, identified the need for a concerted, systematic, and sustained effort at both local and regional levels to support and validate African Traditional Medicine on several fronts. The Eastern & Southern Africa Regional Initiative on Traditional Medicine and AIDS was borne out of this assessment. It convened a regional consultation in May 2003, which produced a series of proposed standards around six main themes related to traditional medicine and HIV/AIDS: the systematic evaluation of traditional remedies; spiritual aspects of healing; HIV prevention and care; processing and packaging of traditional remedies; protection of indigenous knowledge; and intellectual property rights related to traditional health systems. These standards, summarized in this paper, will be incorporated into programs on traditional medicine and HIV/AIDS by various implementers in the region. A number of strategies to test and implement these recommendations are also defined.