Fungai Lupande Mashonaland Central Bureau
Government has intensified research on tuberculosis (TB), amid indications that the mortality rate from the disease is higher in children under the age of five, Bindura district TB coordinator Mrs Mercy Chinosengwa has said.
Speaking at a sensitisation workshop for traditional healers and faith based healers in Mazowe, Mrs Chonosengwa said TB in children presented itself differently and was often misdiagnosed.
She said TB in children caused stunted growth and had caused increased mortality rate, prompting the Government to intensify research on the disease.
The workshop was organised by the National AIDS Council and Ministry of Health and Child Care.
NAC provincial manager Mr Edgar Muzulu said they were focusing on the prevention of TB, which is one of the killer diseases, especially for children under five years, people living with HIV and the general populace
“We called traditional healers, pastors, prophets and faith healers because of the power they yield in their communities and congregations,” he said.
“We are equipping them with information necessary for the prevention of TB, HIV and Covid-19. We are being assisted by experts in the Ministry of Health and Child Care who are giving information to expel myths and misconceptions inherent in communities.
“Believing in God is paramount, but going to hospital to seek medical treatment is very critical. We want to draw parameters to say at which juncture traditional healers and prophets should be able to refer people to hospitals.”
Mr Muzulu said traditional healers and prophets were going to be front-line workers in the fight against TB because they were readily acceptable in their communities.
“We want them to be equipped with the necessary information so that they go back to their respective communities and convince those engaging in negative behaviours to adopt the positive,” he said.
“They have a comparative advantage over the conventional health system and this will become an extension of the health delivery system.”
A member of the Johanne Marange Apostolic sect, who was part of the meeting, said they were not allowed to seek medical attention.
“Mostly children, especially infants, die in our church,” he said.
“Water and porridge is the only medicine administered to everyone who falls sick. All sick people are taken to a place called ‘chitsidzo’.
“There is no diagnosis or knowledge of diseases and some die without knowing what they are suffering from.
“ Church members who go to a clinic are expelled and as a result some vow to die ‘pamukombero waMutumwa’ (hem of the prophet) because they believe they will not go to heaven if they go to clinics.
“Sadly, some church leaders seek medical attention nicodemusly.
“I am just a mere church member and I cannot engage church leaders because I will be expelled from the church, but I can advise church members to go to the clinic.”