THE ROLE OF TRADITIONAL HEALERS IN HIV PREVENTION IN SOUTHERN AFRICAN SOCIETY: THE CASE OF ESWATINI.
This paper explores the extent of the involvement of African traditional healers in HIV prevention in southern Africa, with special reference to Eswatini (Swaziland). It proceeds from the premise that in southern Africa, as in most emerging economies, traditional healers are the leading, accessible and more approachable health care providers in society when compared with modern health practitioners. The paper notes, however, that there is paucity of literature that examines the degree of the involvement of African Traditional healers in the recently adopted global campaign to scale down and eliminate HIV infection through, inter alia, social and behaviour change. Primary data for the paper was gathered through semi-structured and open-ended interviews and focus group discussions with selected Swazi tangoma (diviners/spirit-mediums); while secondary data was drawn from a range of disciplinary perspectives on the subject of the role of religion in the global fight against HIV AIDS. The paper contends that there are strong pointers that in our day and era African traditional healers play a modest but meaningful advisory role in supporting current strategic interventions spearheaded by modern health practitioners and allied partners to contain the spread of HIV by fostering behavioural change among its clients.