BBC: Tanzania male MPs face circumcision call to stop HIV spread (6) [chifa] BBC: Tanzania 'witchcraft' murders - 'Our son was robbed of his future'

10 February, 2019

Dear Chris,

Thank you for your comment.

"Why are you pointing to events that are a result of a local aberrancy, and that have almost zero public health implications, but which certainly make for uncomfortable reading among Tanzanians?... Let's stick to the big picture!"

You refer to my message of 9 February. This message was actually sent on CHIFA, not HIFA. Most HIFA members will not have seen it. I therefore reproduce it below:


[chifa] BBC: Tanzania 'witchcraft' murders - 'Our son was robbed of his future'

[My comment:] Another child murder in Tanzania, apparently for witchcraft (?traditional medicine). This child did not have albinism, unlike many previous child murders.

[The following extracts are from the original BBC news item here: ]

"Witchcraft" and "superstitious beliefs" are being blamed for a spate of child abductions and murders in the Njombe region of Tanzania.

At least six children have been murdered for their body parts, with a number of attempted abductions also reported. Some people believe that magic charms made from human body parts are more powerful.

Goodluck Mfugale was just five years old when he was killed. His parents told the BBC their son had been robbed of his future.


Just a few days ago, CNN reported: 'Ten children kidnapped in Tanzania have been found dead with their body parts mutilated... Tanzania's deputy health minister Faustine Ndugulile said all 10 children had been missing since December in Njombe district, southwest Tanzania. Their bodies were discovered last week after police launched a search operation in the area. "So far, we have found 10 bodies, and most of their private parts and teeth had been removed," Ndugulile said.'

Yes, all this makes very uncomfortable reading for any human being, whatever one's nationality.

The purpose of my message, as always, is to promote discussion and debate on important health issues, particularly when they relate to healthcare information, knowledge and beliefs. This is by any accounts an important health issue in Tanzania (and Malawi) that is terrorising and blighting the lives of countless children with albinism. The issue is relevant to HIFA and our current discussion on the benefits and harms of traditional medicine. I hope we can explore and better understand the underlying causes of this issue and how they can be addressed.

It would be wonderful to hear direct from the deputy health minister. Faustine Ndugulile MP is not yet a HIFA member, but if any of our colleagues in Tanzania know him, please do invite him to join us:

It would also be helpful to hear from anthropologists and other social scientists on HIFA who may be able to bring a sociocultural perspective on the issue.

Best wishes, Neil

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA:

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: