According to a report by Anu Ramachandran (Johns Hopkins University) contained in the Journal of Global Health, the recent rise to fame of Babu of Loliondo, a Tanzanian faith healer who claims to have the ability to cure HIV, has created a cultural and logistical crisis for NGOs and other health organizations working with rural communities in Tanzania, particularly in the area of education.
Faith-based healing is the practice of prayer and gestures (such as laying on of hands) that are claimed to elicit divine intervention in spiritual and physical healing, especially the Christian practice. Believers assert that the healing of disease and disability can be brought about by religious faith through prayer and/or other rituals that, according to adherents, stimulate a divine presence and power.
This practice is predominant across the African continent which is evident with the over 200 000 traditional healers in South Africa and only about 27 000 allopathic medical practitioners. The Traditional Healers' Organization currently represents more than 180 000 traditional healers from South Africa and a number of neighboring countries, including Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The WHO estimates 80% of people in low-income countries rely on non-allopathic healing for their primary healthcare needs.
In an effort to join the conversational pool and proffer solutions to problems generating from such beliefs, BKI Medicals has conducted a survey geared towards finding out the opinion of professionals on the subject matter.
In an interview with Dr. Judy Dlamini, a qualified medical doctor, businesswoman and author, who currently serves as the Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, she stated that Education of faith healers is key.
BKI Medicals: Faith-based healing has been practiced for a very long time all over the world. It has also shaped general ideas of people especially those in rural areas. What is your opinion about faith-based healing?
Dr. Dlamini – Faith healers and traditional healers need to be educated on disease and health interventions required. They need to work with western medical practitioners. Relying on faith healers alone is misleading. Faith helps with whatever initiative that each one takes if you are a believer. Collaboration is what is important. Informed collaboration, explaining the disease process and intervention required and praying for the success of medicine
BKI I Medicals: Some medical practitioners have claimed that in some sense the practice of faith-based healing tends to affect their work as life-savers. Do you think there is a relationship between this assertion and some of the occurrences in your immediate environment?
Dr. Dlamini – Answered above. Healers should encourage people to take their medication. God helps those who help themselves, he works through the practitioners.
BKI Medicals: In your opinion, should there be a merger of the role’s medical practitioners, pastors, traditional herbal healers, and the likes?
Dr. Dlamini – COLLABORATION, HELPING PATIENTS TO MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS. TRAINING HEALERS ON EACH OTHERS’ METHODS
BKI Medicals: In some cases, followers tend to misinterpret messages from their leaders. How can leaders regulate such ideas that can be detrimental to the lives of their followers?
Dr. Dlamini – See above. There should be consequences for misleading practitioners.
BKI Medicals: In our discussions with some medical practitioners, we discovered there have been situations where a caregiver is faced with a patient who adamantly refuses a diagnosis, prescription or treatment based on their faith, even when their rejection of the treatment may result in fatal consequences; how do you think this should be handled?
Dr. Dlamini – Education of faith healers is key again
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