A trip to the doctor is nothing out of the ordinary for most people.

But Andrew Bainbridge has travelled 4,000 miles for an appointment with a difference - with some traditional African witch doctors.

Mr Bainbridge, aged 22, a photographer and film-maker from Kings Heath, Birmingham, has flown out to a remote part of Tanzania to spend six weeks in the remote town of Nachingwea.

He is hoping to meet and live with some village witch doctors with the aim of making three short films on the links and contrasts between traditional healing and Western medicine in the country.

He has accompanied four fourth-year Birmingham University medical students - Alexandra Turner, Rosie Grimshaw and Rachel Rogers - who will be helping out at a 180-bed hospital run by just two doctors.

Witch doctors in Africa treat patients for witch-induced sickness, divining the witch responsible for a victim's illness or misfortune and curing the patient by casting a counteracting spell.

Mr Bainbridge, a Birmingham University graduate, has a degree in history and an MA in politics with an emphasis on Africa, and said he became fascinated with the debate between faith and healing.

The witch doctor, he said, was traditionally an outcast, but the role was generally passed down through family.

"Faith or religious spirituality plays a more pervasive role in Tanzania, explaining and rectifying what the West would view as physiological illness," he said. "The role of a faith healer or witch doctor is much more prominent.

"It is almost a cliche but they do have this role of explaining things that can't be explained to local people, like drought. They are embedded in society and are part of the political make-up in rural Tanzania."

In the West, he said, there was a tendency to think witch doctors were at best charlatans, and at worst preventing people who were ill from getting appropriate, proven medical treatment.

"There is evidence that they are medically beneficial, partly due to the effect of faith, and there is the placebo effect," said Mr Bainbridge.

"In an area like where I'm going, even if Western medicine could help, there is not enough money to help them," he said. "The witch doctor can provide some sort of comfort and a regime to follow.

"I imagine they do believe in what they prescribe, but they are also aware of their power and influence in their society."

The trip, which is costing him £5,000, is a technical challenge as well as a physical and emotional one, with solar panels to generate electricity while he is out there among the things he needed to take. It's fair to say I'm having some second thoughts," he said.

"I'm terrified, I really am. It probably won't hit me until the second week I'm there.

"I'm anxious not to let too much Western perspective colour my filming and experiences. I know life expectancy is about 50 there and child mortality is higher and we will see suffering and disease. There's a temptation to dwell on that because we come from a different place.

"But we have to remember that these people have pleasure and enjoyment in their life and lead fulfilling lives as well. I imagine it will be difficult reentering when I'm back."