In Tanzania's north-eastern region of Tanga, faith in traditional medicines is still strong. With health workers estimating that the region has a ratio of one doctor to 33,000 people and one traditional healer to 156 people, this reliance is hardly surprising.
Over the last decade, a unique partnership has evolved that combines modern voluntary counselling and testing methods with the knowledge local healers in treating opportunistic infections associated with HIV/AIDS. The Tanga AIDS Working Group grew from concern that treatable cases were being taken to traditional healers and only reached hospital when it was too late.
This article reports on the apparent success of this initiative; so far 4,000 people have been treated and, although they are not curing AIDS, health workers say that there are marked improvements in people's standard of living. The project's backers are under no illusion that they have found the ideal solution. But they are confident that their approach has helped break down the lack of trust between traditional and biomedical health workers.