Zim Gvt to deregister unlicensed traditional and faith healers

DEPUTY Health and Child Care Minister Dr John Mangwiro says faith healers and traditional healers are now required to obtain a licence for their operations  as failure to do so attracts a two year jail term or a fine or both.

By Kuda Pembere

This Dr Mangwiro said this was a public health protection measure as many are said to be dying after consulting traditional healers and faith healers who are not referring patients to medical professionals.

His remarks comes in the midst of indications that most patients were presenting late at health facilities after their condition would have worsened due to late diagnosis.

He said this at the launch of the Zimbabwe Unicef-Eli-Lilly pediatric and adolescent Non-communicable disease initiative yesterday at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital.

“Yesterday I was talking about traditional healers, n’angas, mapostori, pastors, those who say they can cure people. We were saying at the parliament that in Section 27.18 that those who say they cure diseases, they should have machines to check BP, sugar and temperature,” he said.

Dr Mangwiro also said these faith and traditional healers should also register with responsible authorities and should document everything.

They should also document what they would have cured. They should also be registered and whatever they do not know, they should refer to other medical practitioners,” he said.

He added that places of operation should be specified so that inspectors can be sent for assessment.

“We would also want to know the place of operation that is where they do the treatments and we can send our inspectors. If we find you curing, whether you are a pastor or evangelist or bishop, or a n’anga you should be registered and possess a record book documenting who you healed, the disease cured and the period and medicines used for healing,” the Health Ministry deputy Minister said.

Failure to comply with the government’s directive will see faith and traditional healers get a jail term of two years.

“If in contravention, one faces two years in jail or a fine or both. It is like so, mothers when you consult these faith healers, they should tell you the diagnosis, the treatment and if they cannot heal the child, they should learn to refer as they cannot know everything. As government we are following up on this knowing what is being done,” he said.

He said they are calling for a unity of purpose for the betterment of human and public health between medical professionals, the Ministry of Health and faith as well as traditional healers.

“This is why we are saying even the traditional healers we work together so that we can get as much information and have to capture all the children who have got problems. Because many patients do not seek the modern treatment due to myths and misconceptions about diabetes and neither are all the deaths captured many patients die before being diagnosed due to different health seeking behaviours,” Dr Mangwiro said.

Dr Mangwiro also noted that parents should be vigilant to demand a diagnosis other than a ‘spiritual diagnosis’ of which claim the cause of the disease being improper marriage rites.

“You know in Zimbabwe if a person gets ill, faith and traditional healers start claiming the cause of disease as witchcraft. They are told marriage rites were not done properly such as mombe yehumayi (which literally translated means the cow of motherhood), not being paid. They are also told an aunt does not want the girl her niece to be married. So we want to work together with the people said to deal with such issues. We want to work with such people and where their wits end, those able to deal with diseases such as medical doctors can take,” he said.

Dr Mangwiro said  these traditional and faith healers will be given a practice number.

“We now have a council that will help traditional healers,” he said adding, “We will be registering each practitioner, even if you are a n’anga, mudzimu, dreamer or a pastor, bishop or evangelist, we expect you to have a licence and we want to licence your place of practice and give you a practice number.”

Most of the patients consulting faith and traditional healers are dying and otherwise if lucky may survive.

The consultation of traditional and faith healers has been largely been attributed to the healthcare bills which many Zimbabweans have been footing on their own. This has resulted in the out of pocket expenditure being directed to the faith and traditional healers.

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