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August 2019

Med Anthropol. 1993 Aug; 15(3): 261-81.

Sexually-transmitted diseases, AIDS and traditional healers in Mozambique.

Green EC, Jurg A, Dgedge A.

Department of Traditional Medicine, Ministry of Health, Maputo, Mozambique.

Qualitative research was conducted with traditional healers in Manica Province, Mozambique to develop an empirical, culturally-appropriate strategy for communication between government and traditional healers related to the prevention of STDs including AIDS. Most Manica healers regard AIDS as a new disease for which they lack medicines. However, when questioned on other sexually transmitted diseases, as defined by healers themselves, relatively complex disease taxonomies based on fine distinctions between symptoms emerged. Manica healers recognize two broad categories of STDs: siki and nyoka-related. The former seems to correspond with the more serious common STDs of Western biomedicine--syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and chancroid--and is believed to be caused by a common invisible, microscopic agent, khoma. Nyoka-related illnesses are understood in terms of traditional ideas of pollution, and denote less serious, self-limiting genito-urinary conditions. Healers express great faith in the efficacy of traditional medicines. Based on the ethnomedical research findings, a culturally-sensitive and -specific AIDS/STD health education strategy for Manica indigenous healers was developed and began operating in a week-long workshop held in Chimoio, Mozambique in November 1991.


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