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The practices of traditional healers in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the Roma Valley, Lesotho.

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Historically colonizers made several attempts to diminish traditional healers and their practices. This was done despite the fact that before the arrival of colonizers, in many African communities, traditional healers were the sole health care providers. This yielded negative attitudes towards traditional healers that still persist today. However, traditional healers and their practices never ceased. People continued to consult traditional healers for various ailments. Even today, in this era of HIV/AIDS traditional healers continue to play a vital role in health care. Even though there are major advancements in the biomedical health care, traditional healers still provide care to people living with HIV/AIDS. In chapter two, the study discusses the role of traditional healers in the primary health care in most African communities. Traditional healers are largely involved in the prevention of diseases as well as illnesses. Recently traditional healers are also involved in the prevention and care of HIV/AIDS, despite the fact that they feel that they are largely excluded in most HIV/AIDS activities. Chapter two also highlights International resolutions that have been adopted regarding traditional healers and traditional medicine. This marks the importance of formally recognizing traditional healers as public health care providers at an International level as well as regionally after the Alma Ata International Conference in 1976 on Primary Health Care. The study was conducted in two areas in Lesotho, Roma and Teyateyaneng. Twenty respondents were interviewed in these areas. The study found out that there are different types of traditional healers in Lesotho who use various methods in diagnosing and treating various illnesses including HIV/AIDS. Diviners use divining bones, herbalists use herbs, faith healers use prayer as well as water. The study found out that traditional healers had different views about HIV/AIDS, particularly the definition of HIV/AIDS and its causes, Witchcraft was strongly recognised as the causal agent of HIV/AIDS. A change in one’s sexual behaviour was reckoned as the major preventative measure. Hence they strongly advocated behavioural change. However they had misconceptions about condoms. Traditional healers also provide care for people living with HIV/AIDS. In some instances, they provide home-based care, refer patients to hospitals and also encourage their patients to eat healthy. The study concluded that some of the traditional healers’ practices have positive and negative aspects. Some of the positive features include their advice to reduce sexual partners, sex abstinence particularly among young people. While negative aspects include delay in referring their patients to the hospitals. Traditional healers are not well collaborate, as a result there is no mutual trust amongst them.


M. Soc. Sc. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2013.


Healers--Lesotho., Traditional medicine--Lesotho., Medicinal plants--Lesotho., HIV infections--Treatment--Lesotho., AIDS (Disease)--Treatment--Lesotho., Primary care (Medicine)--Lesotho., Theses--Sociology.