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Traditional Medicine Could Help Prevent HIV - UN

African Traditional Medicine Could Contribute To HIV Prevention – UN

Traditional health practitioners who have strong advisory roles and influence on community behaviour in Africa could contribute significantly to HIV prevention efforts on the continent, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

In view of the fact that this year's theme for African Traditional Medicine Day is focused on integrating prevention efforts into traditional and everyday life, the traditional healers will be crucial in promoting behaviours to stop the spread of HIV infections such as safe birthing practices, the use of condoms, and sensitizing people to the importance on voluntary testing, a WHO statement said.

It said traditional health practicioners could also play a key role in preventing HIV infection through discouraging practices such as skin piercing, child and sexual abuse.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst HIV/AIDS-affected region in the world, with 75 per cent of all people living with HIV/AIDS. In 2004, an estimated 3.2 million new cases of HIV infection occurred in the region.

Ministers of Health adopted the African Regional Strategy on Traditional Medicine in 2000. It was endorsed by the Heads of State and Government who, in 2001, declared the period 2001-2010 as the Decade of African Traditional Medicine.

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