Vhembe District Municipality in collaboration with the Vhembe District Department of Health and the University of Venda’s Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Systems within the School of Human and Social Sciences celebrated the start of the traditional medicine week at the University of Venda stadium on the 27 August 2017. About 500 Traditional Health Practitioners participated at the event with drama, songs and dances. There were exhibitions as well. Other participants were officials from the District Department of Health, UNIVEN staff and students/researchers and politicians from Vhembe District Municipality including its local municipalities. The main purpose of the event was to celebrate African Traditional Medicine and its critical contribution to the state of health in our communities.
Vhembe Traditional Health Practitioners as they enter the stadium
Celebrating African traditional medicine week as a collaborative of the Department of Health, Vhembe Traditional Health Practitioners’ Association, and the Vhembe District Municipality as well as the University of Venda, was a great opportunity to advance the recognition of the role that traditional health practitioners play in healing but also in education and research at the University of Venda. We have a Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (BIKS) programme, whose curriculum cannot be fully implemented without the participation of traditional health practitioners. We are aware that you have participated in many of our students’ research projects. We hardly celebrate your contribution. Today affords us an opportunity to celebrate with you. These were the opening remarks of Professor Vhonani Netshandama on behalf of the University.
Prof Vhonani Netshandama addresses the audience during the event
Gone is the era where we did not acknowledge traditional medicine, yet we went in and out of the Traditional Health Practitioners homestead, and yet sometimes at night, seeking help and stealing their knowledge. We can now say the truth, and give due recognition to the contribution that traditional medicine plays not only to healing and the quality of life, but to the economy and socio-economic development.
Traditional medicine exhibition and traditional dances demonstrated at the event
Dean, Dr Tshenuwani Farisani, a respected member of the community gave the message of support. He congratulated the traditional health practitioners for the good work they do and encouraged them never to be associated with violence and ritual murders.
Dean Dr Farisani and Councillor Mbedzi spoke during the ceremony
The Secretary of Traditional Health Practitioners Association in Vhembe, Mr Matamba Mamuremi, said “Traditional medicine is crucial to people because ‘they do not stabilize the disease but heal them for good’ and the district and local municipalities should make a budget provision for traditional health practitioners to construct buildings and to assist them in their activities”.
Mr Matamba Mamuremi, Secretary of Traditional Health Practitioners Association in Vhembe says traditional healers must be taken seriously by government
Mamuremi also urged other traditional health practitioners to share knowledge on traditional medicine and refer other patients to fellow traditional health practitioners. He also appealed to traditional health practitioners to stop destroying medicinal trees or shrubs for future use. He also urged government to provide market business center in town for them to officially sell their products to communities. Mamuremi commended the nature of the relationship between traditional health practitioners and the University of Venda. He further indicated that Universities are the best communication platforms to educate people about the importance of traditional health practitioners and medicine.
Mamuremi reiterated that government should develop a policy that will allow deployment of traditional health practitioners to hospitals to deal with other chronic disease and training should be provided to traditional health practitioners so that they can test High blood pressure, HIV etc.
In her response, Cllr Mbedzi who was representing the Mayor in this event said that the government will consider providing business market center for the traditional health practitioners to sell their herbs officially. The Mayor said that she was touched by chronic diseases which result in cutting of body parts of a patient while there is traditional medicine out there that can heal these diseases.
Councilor Mbedzi and Mr Malada of Vhembe District Municiplaity say Vhembe support traditional healers
We are happy because our University has already started the BIKS programme, she said. She also admitted that there is a lot to be done by the Municipality to assist traditional health practitioners in Vhembe. “Traditional health practitioners, pastors, traditional leaders should work together to deal with barbaric brutal killings of women and children for muti purposes. All traditional health practitioners should be registered and discrimination on the basis of believes faced by traditional health practitioners when advancing their culture will not be tolerated; she added.
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Date: 19 September 2017