People Turn to Faith Healing

Harare, Zimbabwe - AS the costs of conventional medicine continue escalating beyond the reach of many, more patients are turning to faith healing to beat the crunch.

Surveys conducted by The Herald this week revealed that many people now first seek the services of faith healers and traditional medicine and only consult conventional doctors or clinics when they have no other option.

Unlike in past years when one would seek medical attention for common ailments like headaches, only serious conditions are taken to the doctors now.

People interviewed by The Herald said they now took ailments like headaches, stomachaches, pregnancy check-ups and chronic conditions to traditional and faith healers where the services were mostly free.

The decision to go to the clinics, hospitals or doctors is only taken when one feels that faith healing and traditional medicine have failed.

Mr Patrick Matuka of Glen Norah said he was asthmatic but had not visited a medical doctor for the past two years.

"Instead, I consult faith healers and get prayed for.

"Sometimes when I feel congested and experience breathing difficulties, I just make a quick trip to my faith healer and I will feel better thereafter.

"Some people used to scoff but now they understand that besides dealing effectively with spiritual problems, faith healers are very competent at curing ailments and they do it for free, all you have to do is believe it works," he said.

Mrs Angeline Mamvura of Highfield, who had suffered from persistent chest problems for three years, echoed these sentiments saying she was cured after visiting a local faith healer.

Except for the occasional "thank you" gift, she had never paid the faith healer for the services.

Madzibaba Henry of the Johane Masowe sect said prophets within his sect were able to assist people with ailments.

"Just like a doctor can prescribe that one take an antibiotic, we prescribe the injection of the Holy Spirit to heal.

We can even advice one to drink lemons or honey and water, after praying for them and they will be healed.

"The healing that we administer is a healing we ask for from God and while I am not going to boast, we have seen miraculous recoveries taking place," he said.

Another faith healer Madzimai Spiwe, who operates from Glen View, said by consulting faith healers, people could be advised in advance of an impending illness and get relevant remedies.

"Just like a check-up where a doctor can find that there is something wrong with one's chest, we can do the same through faith and vision and therefore ask for guidance from the one above, over the best course of action," she said.

Madzimai Spiwe attends to people from as far away as Bulawayo who bring their sick relatives to her.

Last week, several latest cars were parked at her residence while more could be seen arriving and she said the majority were sick while some were coming because of social problems.

It costs as much as $1 million and $1,5 million to consult a medical practitioner these days.

After one is given a prescription for drugs they can expect to spend at least $4 million, which for most people is astronomical.

The problem is even worse for people who suffer from chronic illnesses like asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, as they need constant medical attention and drug supplies.

A simple cough mixture now costs more than $300,000 while some antibiotics can sell for over $1 million.