Traditional healers under AGA Rwanda Network have expressed commitment to professionalise their work through provision of better services.
They made the resolve on Monday during celebrations to mark the international day for traditional healers in Musanze District.
The event took place at Ruhengeri Higher Learning Institute (INES).
It brought together member of the network, academicians, local leaders and officials from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
AGA Rwanda Network head, Daniel Gafaranga, said the network has helped members improve their operations unlike before when they worked in a disorganised way that did not earn them trust from the public.
“Traditional healers have put in more efforts to complement modern medicine. We have moved towards professionalising our work to avoid stereotypes,” he said.
He outlined improved ways of harvesting and conserving medicinal plants, and packaging in ways that increases credibility of the products among their achievements.
“We no longer use traditional materials such as calabashes and pots to keep medicine. We are using modern bottles and other materials certified by Rwanda Bureau of Standards,” he said.
AGA Rwanda network brings together over 14,000 traditional healers from across the country.
Gafaranga said it was time for conventional health providers to build mutual trust with traditional healers as they both play a role in treating various diseases.
INES officials pledged to support traditional healers to professionalise their work by helping them set up gardens of medicinal plants in their respective districts.
Fr. Dr Fabien Hagenimana, INES Rector said as an institution of applied sciences, they are committed to support traditional healers with skills on how to use medicinal plants.
“Sometimes traditional medicine works better than modern one; let us sustain our culture and traditional medicine as well. INES wants to equip traditional healers with skills about the use of medicinal plants, medical prescription and physiology of different parts of the human body,” he said.
Christine Uzamukunda, a former conventional health provider, said both parties should respect and complement each other.
“I qualified in as a nurse but opted to practce as a traditional healer. My mother is an experienced traditional healer and can cure some diseases. I have now partnered with her to promote both modern and traditional skills while prescribing and diagnosing illnesses,” said Uzamukunda, a resident of Musanze District.
Jerome Kajuga, director of culture at UNESCO Rwanda office said traditional medicine deserves respect.
“Traditional healers have a big bank of knowledge which is still secretive. The wish is to encourage them to share with posterity. We want both traditional healers and pharmacists to develop mutual respect and collaboration to come up with good medicine,” Kajuka said.
Traditional medicine is defined as a total sum of knowledge, skills and practice based on theories, beliefs and experiences of indigenous and used in maintenance, prevention and diagnosis of diseases, according to the World Health Organisation.