The unfortunate situation where patients on antiretroviral therapy (ARV) are convinced by spiritual, or, even traditional healers that they are healed and should quit taking drugs has resurfaced once again in the Gabane region. Many of the patients who had otherwise become better and were in good health have had their conditions deteriorate as a result of avoidance.
The past Tuesday, the Gabane Clinics’ medical team paid a visit to the Gabane village leadership; being Headmen of arbitration, Village Development Committee (VDCs) and Village Extension Teams (VET) to ask how best they could bring together Sangomas, Herbalists, Traditional Healers, Church Pastors and Prophets to a workshop aimed at finding the best way of tackling the scourge.
“It has come to our attention that some of our patients on ARVs have the tendency to default taking the pills. Some disappear for the whole year only to return in a worse state than before. When we ask them why they stopped taking treatment some say it was on the advice of their pastors, some the prophets from their churches and others mention traditional healers,” said Dineo Sila Nurse at the village’s Health Post. She said this is unfortunate because since they started the therapy the patients showed sterling improvement.
Another medic, Keatametse Gokgana, also from the Health Post informed the leadership that their team intends holding a workshop that would bring together stakeholders in July. They wanted to find out from the leadership whether to start the workshop on Monday, ending it on Friday so that each of the abovementioned groups would have its own day of discussions with medics. Thus they were asking for the leadership’s opinion.
He said their mission at the main kgotla is not to blame the other stakeholders for anything that went wrong. He said, “All we are saying is that if a prophet hears a congregant saying he/she is healed of HIV/AIDS, he/she should send the patient to the clinic for testing in order to scientifically prove if they have been healed.”
Onkageletse Mosimanyana, the third official-from the main clinic cautioned the elders; “We should not be considered to be judging these people. Neither should they judge us. We are in this thing together and should find a common ground for solving problems that are troubling our health field.”
In response to their comments, Goo Tshielo headman, Sekolokwane Lesotlho commented to the effect that the stakeholders should be brought in together at once since discussions are about community health.
Rufas Kenosi, one of the headmen who also happens to be a traditional healer said there is no point in Pastors or traditional healers giving instructions to patients for them to quit treatment while they cannot even decide whether a patient is dehydrated and needs water or not. He suggested that indeed the workshop should start on Monday at the Kgotla where it would be ensured that all stakeholders are aware of the workshop and would spare time to attend. It was ultimately agreed that the workshop will be scheduled for July and the appropriate date and venue would be communicated in due course.