Calling All Healers

This article ran on the use of traditional healers in the fight against AIDS was published in Time Magazine and is archived below.

July 16, 2006
Calling All Healers
African nations with few M.D.s ask traditional medicine men to pitch in on the fight against AIDS.

By Stephan Faris

Alenga – When Americans think about the problem of getting modern medical care to the people in Africa who need it most, Anthony Okello is not the solution that comes immediately to mind. He’s a medicine man, apprenticed as a teenager to the wandering witch doctor who treated him for a fever that other doctors couldn’t cure. When a patient goes to Okello complaining of rashes and diarrhea, as Lucy Ajam did recently, he recognizes the typical symptoms of AIDS for what they are. He immediately sent Ajam to the nearest hospital to start her on antiretroviral drugs (ARVs)–an approach even a traditionalist like Ajam heartily endorses. “For minor cases, I still use local herbs,” says Ajam, 51, a roadside bread vendor in Alenga, Uganda, a sprawling settlement overlooking the Nile River. “But it’s the ARVs that are keeping me alive.”

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