The role of traditional healers in the management of Tuberculosis in Zambia : A case of Lusaka and Chipata

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Tembo, Emmanuel
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Tuberculosis remains an important but neglected cause of adult and childhood morbidity and mortality in the African region and yet, since its discovery, TB has continued to kill millions of people. Efforts have been made to address this scourge; however, it could be argued that these efforts need to be inclusive of all stakeholders that include traditional healers. On this premise, this study was conducted to describe the role played by traditional healers in the management of Tuberculosis in Zambia. Data were collected from traditional healers from two towns of Zambia. The Snowball sampling technique was used to recruit 100 traditional healers into the study who were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires. The study found that only 65 percent of the traditional healers could identify the main symptom of TB which is prolonged coughing. Overall, the study concludes that traditional healers are, in one way or another, playing a role in the management of TB in Zambia although their participation is marred with challenges that include low knowledge levels of TB signs and symptoms, modes of transmission and prevention and also the mistrust and disrespect by modern health practitioners and by government that was alleged to exist. To this effect, appropriate recommendations are made to enhance the participation of traditional healers in the management of TB. It is recommended that more and regular workshops on TB targeted at traditional healers need to be organised. These should be aimed at, not only raising awareness about the symptoms of TB, but also on the need for traditional healers to refer patients who present with symptoms suggestive of TB infection for a TB tests.
Tuberculosis , Tuberculosis Management , Traditional Healers