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Morse presides over first graduation of Zimbabwe traditional healers

Graduates of Traditional Healers program

Graduates and their families at the first graduation of Zimbabwe traditional healers following completion of a certificate program at the University of Zimbabwe.

By SARA R. SALDI

Published March 27, 2014

Gene D. Morse, professor of pharmacy practice and associate director of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, presided with Charles C. Maponga at the first graduation ceremony of Zimbabwe Traditional Healers who completed a one-year certificate program.

Maponga, a faculty member at UB and the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), and director of the UZ School of Pharmacy in the College of Health Sciences, conveyed greetings and official ceremonial opening speeches from the minister of health and the dean of the UZ College of Health Sciences.

The Traditional Healer Certificate program, offered by the UZ School of Pharmacy in collaboration with the International Education and Research Initiative (IPERI), recognizes the importance of indigenous knowledge systems in Zimbabwe.

IPERI was established by the UB-UZ AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) to foster interactions between community groups, such as patient support groups and traditional healers, and the HIV clinical research and capacity-building program of the AITRP.

The AITRP is funded by the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has a primary goal of increasing HIV clinical pharmacology research capacity at UZ through mentored training of UZ graduate students and faculty in HIV clinical pharmacology research methodology, laboratory sciences and applied therapeutics.

AITRP investigators participating in the educational modules of the Traditional Healer Certificate program include Maponga, AITRP co-principal investigator and IPERI director; Tinashe Mudzviti, an AITRP mentor and IPERI co-director; Dexter Chagwena, an AITRP fellow and nutrition graduate student at UZ; and Martin Zende, an AITRP fellow and UZ graduate student in agriculture.

“This certificate program represents an important step in establishing a community network of practitioners and patients who will contribute to the clinical pharmacology and therapeutics implementation research that the AITRP mentors and fellows are trying to achieve as part of the Zimbabwean Evidence to Action (ETA) national project,” says Morse.

The graduates recognized Maponga for his efforts to develop and implement the certificate program with IPERI and UZ, and showed their appreciation of the recognition of indigenous knowledge systems within Zimbabwe. The class presented a plaque with an inscription of appreciation and the tribal chiefs presented Maponga with statue of a traditional healer made from beads by a local artisan.

During the ceremony, individual awards were announced in the following categories: Best overall students (Brian Chatindo and Richard Mafuta both herbalists), outstanding projects (Friday Chisanyu and Tinashe Kureya), most inspring traditional health practitiner (Mapati William) and most professional participating student (Jessy Kadyevhu). The ceremony included the presentation of a certificate of formal recognition for completion of a program that is consistent with the Traditional Medical Practitioner’s Act 27:14 (Section 3(2b) of the Zimbabwe Constitution.

The program included African music selections from Mbira dza sekuru Mafuta.