no-pseudo-science

Muti: Traditional Medicine Practice in Africa

Synopsis:  CFI Canada is an educational charity whose mandate includes providing education to the public about science and the important of evidence-based healthcare.  Sometimes that means we also speak out against superstitious and/or pseudoscientific practices that we find frustrating and wasteful.  Often the skeptical, scientific community is brushed aside with a “what’s the harm” attitude when it comes to such practices as homeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine and others.  We contend that superstitious thinking does cause harm here and around the world.

 

Muti: What’s the Harm?

Muti is a traditional medicine practice from Africa; a cousin to traditional medicine systems from ancient cultures around the world, it is a mix of herbal medicines, witch-doctoring, cultural norms, ignorance and the deadliest black-market practices.  The people most vulnerable to muti are people with albinism.  CFIC’s National Executive Director, Eric Adriaans wrote a blog post on Canadian Atheist on April 16th, entitled “The Heinous Depths of Superstition” with reactions to the horrible truth that people with albinism are hunted for their body parts in parts of Africa.  On May 8, “Muti” joined other Extraordinary Claims on CFIC’s Extraordinary Claims website.

The ignorance and superstition which underlies the hunting of human beings for use in traditional “witch-doctoring” can only be defeated by education; simultaneously, people with albinism may only lead a comparable life to their family and neighbours through well-thought medical care and support.  Leading needs for people with albinism include low vision clinics and skin-cancer care.

Whether in the appropriate medical care for people with albinism or in defeating the brutal black-market practices which sees them hunted – education is the key.

 

CFIC’s Experience with muti and Helping People with Albinism

On May 8, 2015, Eric Adriaans spoke with Under The Same Sun’s Don Sawatzky about UTSS’ work, people with albinism and what Canada’s secular and scientific community might do to help.  We are discussing strategies today to mobilize Canada’s humanist and skeptical community to help alleviate what can only be described as one of the most egregious harms of superstitious thinking on our planet today.

 

Community Action

Announcements to come shortly; all the latest bulletins will be posted.

May 10, 2015 Malawi – The Association of Persons with Albinism calls for tougher penalties for people found guilty of abducting, attacking or killing people with Albinism.

May 8, 2015 Kenya –  The Albinism Society of Kenya has launched the ‘Niko na Haki’ awareness campaign.

May 8, 2015 Nigeria - Nigeria’s government urged to retain free cancer treatments for people with albinism.

May 7, 2015 Nigeria - Urges to criminalize the stigmatization of albinism.

August 2015 Canada – CFI Canada contributes an auction item to a secular fundraising auction held by Benjamin Radford

 

Our Conclusions

Muti is a deadly form of traditional medicine which sees human beings hunted by a black-market which preys on ignorance and superstition.    Muti is significantly different than other unproven pseudo-sciences (particularly those making claims related to health and wellness) only in the extremes of its victimization.

People with albinism are often stigmatized by extremes of superstitious thinking – treated as supernaturally good or bad.  Clearly they are nothing other than human beings with a medical condition which places them at risk of harm from the sun and from the predation of other people.  Whether in Canada or around the world, CFIC is proud to play a role in assisting in the de-stigmatization of people with albinism and the humanization not only of the victims of muti, but of all victims of pseudo-science.

 

Further Reading

  1. http://www.timescolonist.com/life/islander/author-challenges-the-stereotypes-of-albinism-1.1930147
  2. http://allafrica.com/stories/201505090118.html
  3. http://allafrica.com/stories/201505080490.html
  4. http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/2015/05/govt-urged-to-continue-free-cancer-treatment-for-albinos/
  5. http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/albino-foundation-charges-national-assembly-to-criminalise-stigmatisation-of-albinism/208671/
  6. http://www.visionfortomorrow.org/albinisms-impact-on-vision/
  7. http://mg.co.za/article/2015-05-14-albinos-in-tanzania-fear-death-as-polls-near/
  8. http://www.wral.com/albino-girl-faces-rehab-after-robbers-take-her-leg/14958085/
  9. http://www.wthr.com/story/30223186/tanzanian-albino-teen-survives-attack-seeking-her-magic-bones
  10. http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2015/10/09/tanzania-albino-teen-los-angeles-bones-sidner-dnt-nr.cnn
  11. http://www.manicapost.com/chimene-comes-to-albinos-rescue/
  12. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2015/oct/09/tanzania-albino-children-new-limbs-vicious-attacks-witchcraft-elections-in-pictures
  13. http://www.msn.com/en-za/travel/news/albino-teen-attacked-for-her-body-parts/vi-AAfgOYN?refvid=BBgFMme
  14. http://theweek.com/speedreads/582631/tanzanian-teen-whose-limbs-cut-because-albino-finds-hope
  15. http://citizen.co.za/815732/albino-killer-pastor-wants-bail/
  16. http://www.voanews.com/content/tanzanias-coming-election-raises-threat-to-albinos/3005711.html