ACHAP hosts the University Of Cincinnati College Of Medicine
On Thursday 02 May 2013 a delegation from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine led by Associate Professor Jason Blackard. When giving an overview of their visit to Botswana professor Blackard stated that the University of Cincinnati has a student population of 42000 students. He said their visit to Botswana was facilitated by amongst others the Ambassador of Botswana in the US who is also the University’s alumni Ms Tebelelo Seretse. The professor went on to say that the purpose of the experiential learning tour was give students first-hand experience of the health sector on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria in South Africa and Botswana.
When he welcomed the delegation the CEO, Dr Jerome Mafeni thanked the delegation for choosing ACHAP as one of the institutions to visit in the country. He said ACHAP is good Public Private Partnership model in health sector. The CEO also encouraged the participants to have interactive discussion during the session. Following welcome remarks a presentation was made by the Director of Programmes, Dr Frank Mwangemi. His presentation gave an overview of ACHAP’s work in Botswana and the general statistics on HIV/AIDS, TB. After his presentation he led an interactive discussion between the delegation and the ACHAP management team.
The following session was a presentation from the Botswana Dingaka Association made by Mr. Banyatsi Setilo, the chairperson of the association. In his opening remarks the chairperson showed his gratitude for the opportunity to address the University of Cincinnati delegation. Mr Setilo indicated that traditional doctors have always being viewed with suspicion, and called “witchdoctors” but on the contrary they are just doctors though not in contemporary sense. He opined that almost 80% of Batswana consults traditional healers.
Setilo acknowledged that in yester years HIV/AIDS was thought to be boswagadi (disease of the widowed) in traditional healers’ circles. He said this was because the bones they used to diagnose those infected had no appreciation of HIV/AIDS. The healers have since come of age due to workshops organised but the Ministry of Health. They have learnt from the workshops that they cannot cure AIDS and other ailments. He said through the workshops traditional healers are now able to refer patients to clinics for HIV testing. It is also through the workshops they have started the use of gloves and other sterile objects on their surgeries. He said since they have been accused of perpetuating the spread of HIV they have started encouraging their clients to use condoms.
The traditional healers have also started working with various institutions to do research on the medicinal value of their herbs. Currently they are collaborating with the University Of Botswana School Of Medicine and the Centre for Knowledge Systems for testing of their herbs. Mr Setilo wished that more stakeholders can conduct intensive research on traditional medicine. They (traditional healers) also expressed interest to work with ACHAP on its programmes. The association of traditional healers commemorates the WHO sanctioned African Medicine day every year on 31st day of August.
Lesegolame Sematu one of the traditional healers stated that though they appreciate the collaborations they would like traditional healing to be legislated. He said their dream is to one day share the facilities with biomedical doctors in hospitals. A visit to other countries to share their experiences by the healers was also suggested. The day ended with a demonstration by a traditional doctor using her bones to diagnose a volunteering student.