Don advocates trad healers’ inclusion in mental health law

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A professor of medical law, Professor Titilayo Aderibigbe has called for the amendment of the Mental Health Act 2023 to incorporate traditional mental health healers.

Professor Aderibigbe made the call at the 46th inaugural lecture of Babcock University.

In a paper, Engagement with the Human Body: Searching Through the Prism of Law to Shape the Future, she said the amendment of the act would not only help to expand but would also improve the nation’s healthcare system.
She said while the mental health act seeks to protect people with mental health illness from all forms of abuse, violence and torture, among others, it , however, did not take into consideration the traditional mental healers that offer about 80 per cent of healthcare in Nigeria.

Professor Aderibigbe noted that research have also shown that most of these traditional mental healers provide therapy that is in tandem with the cultural belief system.

“Therefore I am advocating that the Nigerian government incorporates traditional healers into our healthcare system through a rigorous vetting and genuine intention to expand and improve our healthcare through the amendment of Mental Health Act 2023”, she said.

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The professor of medical law further noted that a more practical way to protect the adolescent victims of sexual abuse was to expose the officers who prosecute rape cases in the court to regular training and retraining.

While commending the Lagos State government for her efforts in the reporting process of gender-based abuse report, she called on other state governments to establish special offices for members of the public to report rapes anonymously.

According to her, since ‘the law is the fabric that propels society and is used used to engage with different aspects of the human body’, Nigerian legislators should expand their consultation to the ivory towers.

“For this reason, I believe it is important that Nigeria’s National Assembly take the pain to consult the Ivory towers when legislative amendments are proposed before passing them”, she stated.
Professor Aderibigbe enjoined educational institutions to desist from promoting programmes that focus on sexualisation of young men and women’s bodies to those with healthy interactions, learning of new skills and healthy engagement of the growing intellect.

She therefore commended Babcock University for introducing programmes that engage the students on regular basis.

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