The Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) has called for the enactment of laws to regulate and monitor herbalists if the country is to deal with killings and abductions of persons with albinism.
Speaking in Blantyre yesterday after a closed-door meeting with the Public Affairs Committee (PAC), Apam president Overstone Kondowe said with reports that body parts of persons with albinism are used for rituals, there is need to register and monitor operations of the traditional healers.
He said: “Banning of traditional healers cannot be a good option because they also play a role in providing services to the nation. Traditionally, we cannot completely rule them out of our society. However, just like in Tanzania, it is imperative that as a country we monitor their works to ensure they abide by the protection of human rights and other laws in that accord.”
Commenting on the meeting with PAC, which the quasi-religious body held to engage stakeholders in a “Malawian way” of dealing with the vice, Kondowe hailed the religious body for the initiative.
He said considering the significance of the body on issues of national importance, they hope the meetings will help identify a lasting solution to the challenge.
“This is a unique approach by PAC, and we are hopeful that these meetings will yield results,” said Kondowe.
In his statement to the meeting, PAC chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota said dealing with the root causes of increased violence against people with albinism may not be straightforward considering African traditional religious systems.
He said: “PAC would like to learn from you how best both of us can go beyond the technical approaches and discuss the issue of albinism based on our traditional and cultural interaction. People are tackling the issue on a “professional” basis but we should talk about this in a Malawian way. The killing of people with albinism is real and must be tackled head on to deal with the myths. As a pre-dominantly faith-based group, we would like to do more based on our interaction with you and other groups.”
The quasi-religious body also met traditional leaders under the banner Chiefs Forum where they agreed, among other things, to form village committees aimed at protecting persons with albinism.
PAC is today scheduled to meet Poor and Concerned People with Albinism as well as Herbalists Association of Malawi.