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Government urged to ban traditional healers

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Some traditional leaders in Machinga district have asked government to consider banning traditional healers in the country, saying the traditional healers are fueling attacks on people with albinism.

According to one of the leaders, group village headman Maniya, once the traditional healers to operate, the killers of people with albinism will not have a motive to kill.

“The beliefs here are that one can be successful in their businesses through magic. I believe that these people are convinced that once they obtain the bones of people with albinism, and take them to a traditional healer, they will get rich,” said Maniya

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However, other traditional leaders, including TA Nsanama, said banning the healers can only be justified if there is evidence pointing to their involvement in the killings.

Reacting to the calls, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director, Timothy Mtambo said there is need for research on the issues surrounding the killings of people with albinism before rushing into banning the traditional healers.

“Not all of the traditional healers may be involved in the killings. It is therefore not appropriate to say that we should ban all these people. There is need for us to do a research to establish where the markets for the bones are and the motives,” said Mtambo

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Mtambo added that Malawi should not simply go by a fallacy that since Tanzania successfully curbed the killings of people with albinism by banning traditional healers some two years ago, then Malawi can also successfully do the same.

Meanwhile, Pan-African Civic Education Network (Pacenet) programmes manager, Andrew Kachasu, has observed that lack of knowledge is contributing a lot to the malpractice as people are easily made to believe that they can turn mere human bones into gold.

Kachasu added that there is serious need for an awareness campaign targeting rural people.

Minister of Information, Patricia Kaliati, said government cannot just ban the traditional healers without consulting the concerned stakeholders.

“It’s not an issue of just waking up and saying we have done that. We are a democratic government. We need to discuss that in Parliament and we cannot just follow what Tanzania did without consulting”, said Kaliati.

In an interview last week, general secretary for International Traditional Medicine, John Zanikani denied reports that traditional healers are involved in the killings of people with albinism.

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