By: Mathias Aboba

                               Mrs. Juliana Akugre Anam-erime, Bongo District Director of Health Services

Mrs. Juliana Akugre Anam-erime, Bongo District Director of Health Services

The District Health Directorate of Bongo in the Upper East Region has signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), with Traditional Healers and Chemical Sellers in the district to improve health care delivery to the people particularly in the area of TB case notification and testing, HIV, guinea worm, mental illness, and leprosy among others.

Addressing participants during a? dialogue and sensitization session? ahead of the MOU signing,? the District Director of Health Services, Madam Juliana Akugre Anam-erime said, it was in the interest of ?both health staff and the many Traditional Healers as well as the Chemical Sellers found all over the district to operate under an atmosphere devoid of suspicion and uncooperativeness.

She said the health service recognizes the important role played by Traditional Healers in providing treatment and healing for people, it has noted however that the operations and conduct of some these them ?in the district go a long way to undermine the health and wellbeing of some patients.

?In many parts of the world including Ghana it is well known Traditional Healers and modern medical health care service providers play complementary roles in providing health care to save the lives of people who may suffer one kind of illness or the other but the truth of the matter is that it is not all diseases and conditions that we have the cure and solution as some often claim?, Madam Juliana noted. ?What this means is that it is very critical for us to know all the time what kind of illnesses and or conditions we have the capacity to handle. If we fail to do this we will be acting on our own selfish interest for some motive rather than our primary goal to restore the health and wellbeing of our patients?.

Madam Juliana revealed that largely due to the ill advice of some Traditional Healers some people who suffer from TB, HIV, mental illness and other sicknesses who should be receiving adequate and effective treatment for their conditions in various health facilities in the district and elsewhere are either not reporting to the health facilities or have abandoned their medical treatment regimens to stay in the homes of these healers raising fears of possible spread of some of these diseases among many people in the larger population.

Regarding the activities of chemical sellers, the District Health Director pointed out that their practice required good knowledge of medicine and disease something which most of them do not have. She observed that even with the lack of knowledge some of them have turned themselves into ?health experts? diagnosing and dispensing drugs wrongly leading to complications in the health of patients who receive services from them.

She said lack of regular engagement among the two groups and health authorities in the district over the years have led to suspicious and unfriendliness in their relationship a situation she admitted does not auger well. She was hopeful that the signing of the MOU will bring about better understanding and improve collaboration between them for the benefit of the population.

Mr. ?Michael Atariyoo, the Bongo District Diseases Control Officer who took the participants through the causes and symptoms of some of the diseases including TB said the engagement was hoped to improve the knowledge of the participants on some common diseases.

He disclosed that the MOU enjoins the Traditional Healers and Chemical Sellers to refer all cases that they suspect of these diseases to the appropriate health facility for diagnosis and treatment.

Mr. Atariyoo commended the participants for their interest and said the District Health Directorate will do well to sustain the engagement with them regularly.

Some of the traditional healers who were ?interviewed admitted that the engagement was useful as it did not only help to improve the relationship between them and the health care providers but also increased their knowledge of some of the health conditions that require strict and urgent medical care. Others however were bitter that some health staff treat them and patients who receive treatment from them while visiting the hospital with disrespect. They therefore pleaded with authorities to consider sensitizing all health staff in the district especially those at the community level to appreciate their services and collaborate with them to give better health service to patients.

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