Ebola – Traditional healers, witch doctors, burial attendants

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Helpdesk Query:
  • Is there a difference between witch doctor, herbalist, traditional healer in terms of when people see them and the kind of treatment they provide (in particular thinking of the amount of physical contact they and others will have with the sick person) or are they different words for the same thing?
  • Are some of these the same people that would officiate at burials – thinking particularly of preparing the body (if so which ones)?
  • Are they the same people as secret society leaders? Or what is the overlap?
  • Is giving them information enough or do they also need money (healing is obviously a livelihood and I understand that money also therefore plays a ritual role too)? If they need payment how would that best be done? As a retainer? For each referral of a person that meets case definition? Other?
  • Where might other leverage points lie to get them to change their behaviour?
Summary:

This helpdesk focuses on the impact of traditional healers, witch doctors and burial attendants on ebola in West Africa. It seeks to establish if there is a difference between witch doctors, herbalists and traditional healers in terms of when people see them and the kind of treatment they provide. It goes on to explore the roles of these actors in preparing bodies for burial and at funerals. It provides information on secret societies. The report goes on to explore behaviour change. It provides information on payment of traditional healers as a leverage point.

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PDF - 524 KB

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