The statue of King Sobhuza II of Swaziland, father of the country's reigning monarch.

Mbabane – An effort to integrate traditional healers into Swaziland’s health-care system has been criticised in parliament because exposing children to the healers might lead to spirit-induced illnesses.

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is seeking assistance from healers and traditional religious groups to combat an outbreak of rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhoea that has claimed the lives of more than 40 Swazi children.

“An inyanga (traditional medical practitioner) must not go to a place where there are children because the children will catch bad spirits or even illnesses,” said MP Sandile Nxumalo.

Nxumalo, a member of the House of Assembly health port-folio committee, did not specify what spiritual maladies were carried by traditional healers.

However, Swazi diviners are believed to commune with ancestral spirits that may cause misfortune to others who come into contact with a healer who has not been spiritually cleansed.

“An inyanga is not a witch,” said Gogo Thwala, an inyanga in the town of Matsapha, east of Mbabane.

“An inyanga is a healer.

“However, you would not wish to be near a doctor who has been exposed to a deadly germ before he has cleaned and purified himself.

Responding in parliament, Health Minister Sibongile Simelane defended the incorporation of healers into a nationwide effort to deal with the deadly diarrhoea outbreak.

Daily News Foreign Service