Traditional healers welcome new Bill

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WINDHOEK – Traditional healers New Era has spoken to say that having an umbrella body to govern traditional African healers is the way to go in order to curb the proliferation of bogus healers.

Some traditional healers claim they possess supernatural powers to solve pregnancy problems, enlarge a penis, increase low sperm count, cure premature erection, cure menstrual pains, bring back lost lovers, cure ulcers, win court cases, resolve financial problems and remove bad luck amongst others, according to adverts in the classified section of a local daily newspaper.

Traditional healers say that regulating traditional healers as well as registering them under an umbrella body is “very important”.

“We are experiencing problems with some of our members. They are giving all of us a bad name,” said a Windhoek-based traditional healer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The healer who was initially reluctant to speak acknowledged there are traditional healers who take advantage of their clients.

“There are many (bad) things they do,” he said.

He said many traditional healers do not have offices where they operate from.

He added that “this is bad for the credibility of traditional healers because they will not be accountable as they can disappear when they fail their clients after they have been paid huge amounts of money”.

“Some of our members don’t have offices. They meet people on the streets and in their cars. They must have a house where they operate from and papers to prove that they are traditional healers,” the traditional doctor said.

Another traditional doctor, Mululi Kyabalema, said when there is a body that regulates traditional doctors it will be difficult for “some bogus people to operate”.

He said there are bogus healers who relocate by changing contact details after they fail their clients.

“It’s very good for integrity and transparency to have an umbrella body for traditional healers,” Kyabalema commented.

Kyabalema who is originally from Tanzania said he moved to Namibia last year when he noticed he had many clients “from this side”.

“I used to receive a lot of people who travelled to Tanzania and I saw it fit to come here,” said Kyabalema who is based in Okahandja.

He says he is registered with a regulating body in Tanzania.

Asked how it is possible for someone to win a court case through the services of a traditional healer, one traditional healer said “it’s a spiritual thing”.

Meanwhile, Kyabalema remarked that some ailments cannot be cured with western medicines.

“So we have to go the way of our forefathers. Like when a person is possessed by an evil spirit,” he said.

Meanwhile, Desderias Haufiku who until last Friday was the chief health programme officer in the health ministry said the ministry does not have statistics on how many traditional doctors operate in Namibia because there is no governing body to regulate them yet.

Haufiku who spoke to New Era on Friday said the Traditional Health Practitioners’ Bill will go back to the public for further input.

The Bill provides for the establishment, constitution, powers and functions of the Traditional Health Practitioners Council of Namibia, to regulate the registration of traditional health practitioners and the practising of traditional healing. In addition, it seeks to prohibit the practice of traditional healing without being registered.

It provides for different categories of traditional healing and different requirements for Namibian citizens and persons who are not Namibian citizens.

Furthermore, it provides for the establishment of the interim Traditional Health Practitioners Council of Namibia and for incidental matters. The Bill was tabled in parliament towards the end of last year, said Haufiku.

A recent follow-up on the Bill, said Haufiku, is that with the new Cabinet a new parliamentary committee will be established to consult the public for further input.

“They are waiting now to constitute committees and the new parliamentary committee on human resources and community development will take up that responsibility to consult the public for more input on this Bill,” said Haufiku.

He added: “So once they get feedback from the public it will go back to the health ministry to include those comments if it is necessary and then it will go back to parliament for further debate and for parliament to pass it.”

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