Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
ABOUT 85 percent of Zimbabweans consult prophets, faith and traditional healers for medical ailments, a development that has jolted the Government to enforce regulations and arrest those who are not registered.
According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, a majority of Zimbabweans are shunning doctors and consulting prophets for illnesses.
The Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Adrian Musiiwa, yesterday said the Government was concerned about the increasing number of unscrupulous people who claim to be healers and compromise people’s health.
“In this country there is freedom of worship but it does not extend to freedom of healing. A study conducted by my ministry at the beginning of this year showed us that about 85 percent of people prefer consulting prophets and faith healers instead of going to hospitals.
“Healing is for the Ministry of Health and churches are for worshipping. Whoever feels that they are capable of healing people should be registered under the Traditional Medical Practitioners Council (TMPC) so that we monitor them and make sure that they are not compromising people’s health,” said Dr Musiiwa.
He said many patients were losing their lives while some were resisting medication due to instructions from prophets and traditional healers which contradicted conventional advice from qualified medical practitioners.
“There are a lot of unscrupulous people claiming to be faith healers thereby compromising people’s health. We have more than 900 000 people living with HIV and are on anti-retroviral treatment.
“Some faith healers claim to heal HIV and they tell our patients to stop taking their drugs. The patients default and they end up developing resistance to treatment,” said Dr Musiiwa.
He said the ministry was concerned about faith healers who were making people drink and eat dangerous concoctions and weird herbs that affect their health.
Dr Musiiwa said this is a setback in the health fraternity and calls for strict monitoring of prophets and traditional healers.
“We therefore need to know who else is attending to our patients and what they’re telling them to do. If they’re giving them wrong information then we have to intervene as a ministry.
“If a church believes that they have a pastor who is powerful to treat and heal people they have the right to vouch for their pastor and recommend him to operate under the Traditional Medical Practitioners Council. The ministry will then allow him to register and monitor him. We must know how they do it so that people are not taken for granted,” said Dr Musiiwa.
The deputy minister, however, said the ministry would deregister those who do not follow the ministry’s health regulations and use unhygienic substances to treat people.
He warned people to be wary of false prophets and urged them to first ask for a TMPC licence before seeking their services.
Dr Musiiwa added that the ministry was organising workshops for faith healers to discuss how they could complement each other in protecting people’s lives and keeping them healthy.
Last month President Mugabe blasted “pastors” who steal from congregants in the name of God.
He said individuals should worship God directly instead of relying on so-called “men of God.”— @pamelashumba1