Health News of Saturday, 9 March 2013
A total of 2,248 persons living with HIV on antiretroviral treatment across the country had shunned medication seeking healing at prayer camps and from traditional healers, an AIDS commission workshop has revealed. It has also been established that these group of persons only to return to the hospital after cases had worsened.
The Ghana AIDS Commission in collaboration with the Eastern Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) and Philadelphia FIGHT, a non-governmental organization based in the United States organised the day’s workshop for traditional healers, religious leaders, civil society organizations and health personnel in Koforidua on Friday.
The workshop was to provide an update on the current trend and development on HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and to discuss means of strengthening effective collaboration and partnership among the stakeholders on the subject matter.
At the end of the workshop, traditional healers and the religious leaders agreed that it was very imperative that they worked hand-in-hand with the professional medical practitioners and the coordinators to deliver effective services for People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV).
The stakeholders resolved that all orthodox and religious facilities should have contacts of their clients and those of the health centres in order to make effective follow ups on the victims to referral centres.
They also adopted that the traditional healers, religious leaders, especially those at the prayer camps and health personnel, should have confidence among one another by revealing certain information about their operations for the benefit of the PLHIVs.
The traditional healers and the religious leaders deemed it very important to create offices at their centres to host health personnel such as midwives and AIDS workers, who would first of all offer HIV test for their clients before commencing their treatment or services.
The stakeholders appreciated the fact that their crucial role is to be encouraging their clients who are living with HIV to adhere to and not to default on their medication so as to keep them healthy and stronger.
Stakeholders at the workshop called on the Ghana Health Service and the AIDS Commission to set up a team whose function would be to identify all traditional healers and prayer camps in a catchment area and to establish a relationship with them to exchange methods of treatment of PLHIV.
It was also adopted that regular workshops for the traditional healers and prayer camp operators and regular supporting supervision on their activities would help save many HIV and AIDS victims who neglected their Anti-retroviral Treatment for prayers or unsuccessful herbal treatment.
The workshop identified stigmatization as still the very huge bane on reducing HIV and AIDS issues in the country and that all hands must be on deck to stop stigmatizing PLHIVs since they are humans just like any other person.