A University of Birmingham graduate is to travel to Tanzania to make a documentary looking at the conflicts and/or similarities between Western medicine and the country's indigenous practices of faith healing or witch-doctoring.

Photographer and film-maker Andrew Bainbridge is to join a team of three final-year students from the University's Medical School to spend six weeks in the remote town of Nachingswea, Tanzania.

Leaving on April 22, the team will be helping to run a 180-bed hospital in the town, which has no running water and only sporadic electricity in key buildings.

Alexandra Turner, Rosie Grimshaw and Rachel Rogers - all fourth-year trainee medics - will be working alongside two doctors who run the entire hospital with nurses and healthcare assistants who have little training and have to learn from experience.

Tropical diseases such as typhoid, cholera and malaria are commonplace and the area has a large AIDS problem, yet many patients remain unaware of HiV or how it may affect them. Spiritual healers, or witch doctors, play an important role in local lifestyle and culture.

Andrew, aged 22, from Kings Heath, who studied history and political theory at Birmingham with special focus on Africa, aims to explore the debate between faith and science. Currently working as a photographer and director, having recently set up the Lost Art Logic company, he will be documenting the medical students' experience and also hopes to produce photographs for a regional art exhibition.

"In the West, there is a growing trend for all issues of physical and mental health to be medicalised," he says. "In Tanzania, this is not necessarily the case. Faith or religious spirituality plays a more pervasive role, explaining and rectifying what the West would view as physiological illness. The role of a faith healer or witch doctor is much more prominent.

"This documentary will contrast the views of medical professionals who have been trained by Western techniques with those of the native healers."


Further information:

University of Birmingham Press Office

tel: 0121 415 8134 / 0121 414 6681

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