News and notices. Comm Eye Health Vol. 13 No. 36 2000. December 01, 2000

Collaboration with African Traditional Healers for the prevention of blindness

In 1997, an International Symposium in Blantyre, Malawi, reviewed existing programmes collaborating with healers in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Nepal. Participants in the Symposium included traditional healers and representatives of the INGDOs and international centres of ophthalmology concerned with cooperation in this important field of eye care. The Symposium was co-sponsored by the World Health Organization.

The Journal of Community Eye Health previously published a Journal on traditional healers with the emphasis on cooperation and ‘working together’ (J Comm Eye Health 1997; 10: 1-7). This is the theme of this compact book of 52 pages.

This significant publication has two sections and a number of appendices. Section 1 deals with the issues of working with traditional healers and provides background information on traditional eye practices. Section 2 discusses a curriculum for teaching traditional healers and gives suggestions and advice on clinical topics including cataract, trichiasis, assessment of vision, red eye, neonatal conjunctivitis and other childhood eye diseases.

Dr Harjinder Chana and nursing colleague with a traditional healer in Zimbabwe. © Harjinder Chana
Dr Harjinder Chana and nursing colleague with a traditional healer in Zimbabwe. © Harjinder Chana

Appendices list the recommendations of the Symposium, participants attending, a bibliography and research priorities. Further, issues concerning the use of western medicines, methods of determining traditional eye practices and and evaluation of training programmes are discussed.

The reviewer recognises the artistic hand of Dr Harjinder Chana in the excellent line drawings that conclude the book.

It may be noted that elsewhere in this present Journal of Community Eye Health, Dr John Sandford-Smith’s letter reports his startling finding during a recent visit to Northern Nigeria – that the method of cataract surgery which has increased in the last 15 years has been couching!

This book has a vital message and will introduce many readers to the concept and practicalities of working with traditional healers in our field of eye care and community eye health.

The book may be obtained from: Canada: BC-EIO, UBC, St Paul’s Hospital, 1081 Burrard St., Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6, Canada. Payment in US$ drawn on US or Canadian dollar accounts only, payable to St Paul’s Hospital please. UK: UK: International Resource Centre, Institute of Ophthalmology, 11-43 Bath St, London EC1V 9EL; Fax: 00 44 20 7250 3207; E-mail: EYERESOURCE@UCL.AC.UK. Please make your cheque payable to UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON. Only cheques or banker’s orders drawn on UK£ or US$ bank accounts can be accepted. Cost: UK £2.50 or US $4.00 incl. post & packing.

Update: 24 June 2013: This publication is available online.

News and notices in Comm Eye Health Vol. 13 No. 36 2000 –