Despite shunning traditional health practitioners (THP) during the day, church pastors are visiting tthem in a Nicodemus-like manner to boost powers, Elisha Mutanga,

a traditional medical practitioner, told RelZim.

Mutanga, who is also a member of Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (ZINATHA), voiced his remarks at a recent consultative meeting held by HelpAge. The meeting was attended by traditional leaders, community leaders and traditional health practitioners. Mutanga said, “Church pastors come to consult seeking help to boost their powers. They come during the night and to make sure that no-one comes at the homestead they book the whole day. They instruct me not to allow anyone to visit the place.” THPs also said church leaders come to consult them during election time in their churches.

THPs include bone-setters, spiritualists, prophets, dreamers, herbalists, exorcists and fortune-tellers.

Elizabeth Mazicho a herbalist who also attended the function concurred with Mutanga saying she usually helps her clients with juju that boost numbers of people attending congregations.

HelpAge Zimbabwe Executive Director Priscilla Gavi said there is need for advocacy engaging people because most of them say traditional health practioners are evil whilst they are not. THPs have a vital role to play according to the 2011 HelpAge Research Study Report titled “Roles of Traditional Health Practioners, Traditional Leaders and Community Leaders in Health Development and HIV/AIDS Response for Older Persons: lessons from communities in Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.” This study revealed that most communities perceive THPs as influential persons who are custodians and reservoirs of societal culture. “They hold a lot of power and influence which can greatly determine the health-seeking patterns of the communities they live in.”