Italy meeting calls for increased funding for Africa's traditional medicine to combat HIV and AIDS

By Henry Neondo

Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health , TICAH, meeitng held at the Rockfeller Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy called for increased research into traditional medicine as a vast majority of Africans are already using traditional medicine.

Participants discussed among others the role that traditional healers play in communities and that traditional medicines play in the health care of the majority of positive people in Africa.

"It is vital to accelerate the development of traditional medicines into the armament of treatment options available for HIV/AIDS in Africa", the participants said.

They added that the health of Africans living with HIV and their access to care can be improved by promoting the integration of traditional and complementary medicine with Western medicine, including anti retroviral treatments, which are becoming more available.

The goals of discussion were ground recommendations for treatment and care in the realities of patients' lives, and in the context of Africa, identifying opportunities for providing optimal AIDS treatment in Africa at all stages of HIV progression, including attention to herbal and traditional medicines, incorporation of treatment aspirations and choices that positive Africans are making into treatment protocols and funding.

The meeting also gave an outline of the fundamental tenets of comprehensive AIDS treatment in a clear and compelling public statement, and determined next steps toward an alliance for action to bring about more inclusive and effective care in Africa.

The meeting that mostly brought together care seekers, also designed comprehensive prevention, mitigation, care and treatment packages for one African community in order to put deliberations into their larger context.

At the end the meeting issued a statement that called for the infected and affected to be afforded the most comprehensive and effective means of care and treatment, within the context of prevention, mitigation, care and treatment efforts worldwide.

Participants called for persons coping with HIV/AIDS and their supporters to be empowered to choose the optimal approach for themselves from among all the available methods of care and treatment.

They said that this is essential not only for empowering people for making the best possible choices for their health, but also for reducing the harmful impact of both traditional and allopathic practices.

They called for recognition of unique indigenous assets of each culture - herbal, medicinal, social and spiritual in responding to the health challenges posed by HIV and AIDS.

The meeting included policymakers and donors who shape treatment protocols and funding; program managers, care providers, and researchers involved in AIDS care in Africa; positive treatment activists from Africa and was funded by the Rockfeller Foundation.

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