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close this bookCollaboration with Traditional Healers in HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care in Sub-Saharan Africa - A literature review (UNAIDS, 2000, 64 p.)
close this folderAdditional criteria for collaborative projects
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View the documentCriteria for selecting 'genuine' or 'authentic' healers
View the documentApproach used to establish trust with traditional healers

Criteria for selecting 'genuine' or 'authentic' healers

Due to the lack of regulatory bodies for traditional healers in most countries, selection of 'genuine' or 'authentic' healers can be a challenge for most new projects.

In general, these eight projects generally consulted community leaders, traditional healer associations and the ministries in charge of traditional healer activities for approval and for recommendations of genuine or authentic healers. Many project leaders commented on the extensive time needed to select genuine traditional healers who were truly interested in collaboration.

In Senegal, criteria for selection were initially based on healers' reputations. The selection was enhanced by the use of children, considered innocent and unbiased. They were asked to which healer in their community they would refer someone with an ailment.

In South Africa, the project first contacted five traditional healers' associations to select healers for training. However, in the second round of training, it was found that the trained healers were much more effective at selecting genuine healers than the traditional healers' associations were.

Other initiatives also noted that it was preferable to avoid traditional healers' associations, as the internal politics of these associations can sometimes interfere with selection, training, or other project objectives. Such was the case in Uganda, where the criteria for traditional healers' selection used by THETA are the following:

· being recognized as healers by the community and local authorities
· having regular patient attendance
· having a clinic or shrine to receive and treat patients
· knowing how to prepare herbal remedies.

The list in Figure 6 can be useful in selecting healers to participate in collaborative projects.

Figure 6. Issues in selecting 'genuine' or 'authentic' healers

Community recommendations

· Did the project consider the community recommendations for genuine or authentic healers?

Traditional healers' associations

· Did the project consider traditional healers' association recommendations critically?

Ministry recommendations

· Does the country have an office in the ministry under which traditional healers' activities fall?

· If so, did the project collaborate with this office in the selection of traditional healers?

Patient attendance

· Do the traditional healers selected have regular patient attendance?

· Herbal preparations

· Do the traditional healers selected prepare herbal treatments?

Taking time

· Has the project budgeted enough time to select genuine traditional healers?