Today is officially World AIDS Day which largely brings to light issues of awareness, prevention, stigma surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic globally. I think key amongst these issues is prevention, so as to keep this epidemic at bay. Like my friend Femi Kuti says - AIDS no dey show for face....
Recently I attended a talk by Dr. Esther Ofoegbu , an Endocrinologist, and head of Department of Medicine and Head of the Office of Medical Education at the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu. Like the Maduekwe talk, it was uninspiring, at best (actually it was much worse, at least Maduekwe is skilled in the art of BSing, the Ofoegbu talk was embarrasing - I almost did not want to raise my hand when she asked if there were any Nigerians in the audience). A member of the audience, yours truly, brought up the recent trend towards an integration of traditional healers into the national healthcare discourse. Such was dismissed by our esteemed visitor as nonsense seeing that traditional healers are nothing short of rogues, and she could not possibly understand why Nigerians, even the ones who can afford to attend hospitals, would still frequent these people.
Well, I am not easily deterred in my opinions and it seems like in terms of prevention and basic healthcare needs, it would not be such a bad idea to work in concert with traditional healers in order to reach the larger Nigerian populus with prevention messages like those that relate to not only infectious diseases such as AIDS, but also chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. Integration of traditional healers would inevitably lead to increased monitoring of false information being spread about prevention and cure of disease and they could serve as effective screening tools in which they could actually encourage their patients to see health professionals in complex cases. The possibilities are endless when one thinks creatively and gets their minds out of the box. In fact, Ofoegbu, the integration of traditional healers into modern practice is not a bad idea, says the World Bank and the World Health Organization.
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