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Traditional doctors crucial in AIDS fight - WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged African governments to expand the role of traditional healers in the continent's anti-AIDS efforts.

According to the UN health agency, the practitioners were respected and well-placed to discourage risky traditional practices in communities, such as skin piercing, circumcision and tattooing with unsterilised equipment.

In a statement marking African Traditional Medicine Day, WHO regional director for Africa Luis Sambo said, "It is well known that the use of ... non-sterilised instruments may result in HIV infection or hepatitis transmission."

WHO said HIV/AIDS was a major challenge, which claimed at least two million lives in sub-Saharan Africa every year.

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