WINDHOEK – A home treatment to remove painful haemorrhoids from a young taxi driver on Tuesday went horribly wrong when the traditional healer in Otjomuise, who operated on him, failed to stop her patient’s bleeding and threw in the towel.
A few hours later and with blood still oozing from his behind and agonizing pain, the patient drove himself to Katutura State Hospital where doctors worked fervently around the clock to stem the bleeding.
Forty-year-old Windhoek resident Colin Tjivikua, who daily drives people from Windhoek to Okakaraka and back, narrated to this reporter that early in the morning he suffered excruciating pain from his haemorrhoids.
New Era understands young men, especially among the Herero, often feel shy about going to hospital and rather choose a traditional method of treatment.
He said the rectum “surgery” was painful. Haemorrhoids are bulging blood vessels located in the rectum and when left untreated can bleed and cause tremendous amount of pain. Because they bulge they make bowl movement a dreadful task.
New Era caught up with Peggy Makaya Mbunga, the registered traditional healer who worked on the patient. Outside her consulting room many people were lined up with various complaints and requests. Some were busy washing themselves with special treated medicinal waters.
The friendly and accommodative healer from Vienna Street in Otjomuise 2 said she advised the patient to rather seek professional help from doctors at the hospital as his haemorrhoids had already started to show infection. “The ‘amber’ was very big. I advised him to go to hospital but he refused and he insisted that I must help him. The sore had already burst and showed signs of infection. He took too long to get treatment,” she explained.
When asked why Tjivikua took so long to get treatment, the answer this reporter got was that most men feel embarrassed about their situation. “Some of them don’t even tell their spouses or mothers that they suffer with haemorrhoids,” his aunt replied.
A clinical doctor said there is advanced medical treatment available. “Surgery for haemorrhoids is a simple, same day procedure.”
“In just a few hours you can be relieved of your symptoms. The most important variables in health seeking behaviour are cultural beliefs, which are expressed in the patient’s perceptions of the cause of illness and the patient’s interpretation of illness symptoms,’’ he said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes traditional medicine as diverse health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises applied singularly or in combination to maintain wellbeing, as well as to treat, diagnose or prevent illness.
In the wake of fake traditional healers down the years, the Traditional Healer’s Council celebrated a triumph in 2010 when a Traditional Health Practitioners Bill in Namibia was introduced to regulate the sector.
Under the Bill, aimed at regulating the proper usage of herbs and improving the quality of healthcare in Namibia, the Traditional Healer’s Council is given power to register and control every person wishing to practice traditional medicine in Namibia.
By Fifi Rhodes