Religion Vrs Medical Solution In Ghana, Who Wins?

In the quest to get health and medical solutions easier and faster many people are avoiding health facilities but rather prefer to go to religious leaders, and fetish priests and even resort to doctrines they least understand.

In other words, instead of seeking medical assistance from hospitals or clinics, they prefer to go to pastors, traditional healers, prophets, seers, mallams and prayer camps among others, with the expectation of getting total healing at any cost.

For many people, medicines alone are not enough; they must be supplemented with anointing oils, herbal medicines and other solutions.

In this article, The Ghana Report took the initiative to speak to medical practitioners, religious leaders and, families who have lost loved ones in such situations after they stood against medical remedies.

Interviews with victims and families of victims

Georgina Addo, a sister to Kezia now deceased recalled and narrated to The Ghana Report that her late cousin was five months pregnant when she was diagnosed with pregnancy, hypertension and a kidney disease.

“My late sister was five months pregnant and went to the hospital and was diagnosed with hypertension in pregnancy and kidney disease, the remedy was to manage it and when she was due to deliver, she will undergo a caesarian section and then afterwards treatment for the kidney can commence but upon telling her husband who requested they inform their pastor, they resorted to prayers and ‘akwankyere’ (spiritual directions).”

“Her husband and supposed pastor eventually stopped her from seeking medical attention, whilst terming the condition as a demonic attack from their enemies”

“Her husband never missed any prayer session or akwankyere session with their pastor and always dragged my dying sister along when they went for their prayers”

“Sometimes they were given ‘holy water ‘, they were asked to buy expensive anointing oils, they were even sleeping over in the pastor’s house with hopes of getting healed and safe delivery,” she narrated.

Georgina further narrated that her sister collapsed in the ninth month of her pregnancy and was rushed to the hospital.

“At the hospital, the doctors after examination wanted to conduct a caesarian section on my sister but her husband brought her some holy water and insisted they make her deliver naturally because his pastor said the wife will die if she goes under the knife”

“Two days after she was admitted to the hospital she died”, Georgina narrated

Sylvia, a 2-year-old also narrated her ordeal with her Jehovah’s Witness parents about her two-year-old nephew who was hospitalized and needed blood transfusion.

“My sister died during the birth of his son two years ago because my Jehovah’s Witness(JW) family refused to donate blood to her because of the doctrines of their church, sincerely I was born into a JW family and have participated fully in everything they do but losing my only sister to death in the name of a church doctrine was something I couldn’t get over”

“When my nephew fell sick and I got to know his healing involved blood donation, I knew if care is not taken history might repeat itself, so I snuck to the hospital to donate my blood for my nephew and surprisingly enough we were compatible, I explained the situation to the doctors and advised them never to disclose this to my parents”

Mrs Konadu, a 33-year-old married woman also narrated her ordeal stating that her husband refused to sign approval forms for a caesarian section to be conducted on her for their first child who is now five-year-old due to the words of their pastor”

“I experienced serious complications during the delivery of my first son, I remember our pastor told me not to undergo any caesarian section because I will deliver like a Hebrew woman, but when I was due to deliver and considering the risk I will put my son and myself through if I refused the surgery, I opted for the surgery but my husband refused to sign the documents,”

“Eventually I had to deliver vaginally but with the help of some medical tools which ended up deforming the head of my son, my five-year-old son’s head is totally deformed”, she said.

Interview with medical practitioners

In an exclusive interview with the head of the obstetrician/Gynaecology department of the Maamobi General Hospital, Dr Kamali Mustapha, he stated that when it comes to religion and medicine or the health of an adult, the patient has every right to determine which mode of treatment they prefer, hence the medical practitioner does not have any right to impose any treatment on a patient.

” as an adult patient, the doctor can only suggest the mode of treatments for you but can not impose it on you”, he said

Recalling a situation, Dr Mustapha narrated that, the husband of a pregnant woman who was diagnosed with hypertension in pregnancy and was supposed to undergo a caesarian section for the delivery of her baby, refused to sign documents so the surgery could be performed on his pregnant wife.

According to Dr Mustapha, the man hardened his heart against the surgery hence he called on other doctors to counsel the man but all their efforts proved futile.

With his pregnant wife, he left the hospital.

Not long after the couple left the hospital, the woman was rushed back to the hospital but it was too late for anything to be done to save her and the baby; both mother and child died.

He added that there are quite a number of people who resist medical prescriptions and remedies and in such cases, doctors become helpless since they can’t impose their remedies on their patients.

Also speaking on the topic, Dr Naa Adwoa Okyere, a medical doctor at the 37 Military Hospital emphasized on the the submission Dr Mustapha made that, no doctor can impose his remedy or mode of treatment on any patients.

She added that she witnessed a situation where a patient needed blood but due to the religious background of the patient, the family of the patient refused to donate blood for her.

” the core mandate of the medical practitioner is to save lives, so in that situation, after we had tried to convince the patient’s family but to no avail, the medical practitioners went behind the backs of the patient’s family, got the blood and conducted the blood transfusion for the patient” she added

She further explained that it wasn’t right to go against the will of an adult patient or their family but in most cases, the mandate to save the life hits hard and some medical practitioners go against the patient’s will to save them.

The final interview was with the head of the physiotherapy department of the Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital, Dr Charity Mustapha, she spoke on the health of children and stated that medical practitioners determine the suitable mode of treatment for children.

“When you are less than 18 years old, you belong to the government, hence when you are being treated in the hospital, there is relatively no chance for interruption from either parents or guardians but if such situations arise, the doctor is permitted to seek a legal document from a court to either continue or discontinue treatment so that in case of any adverse result the law can be the witness”, she added.

A clinical psychologist at the Trust Hospital, Mr Julius Mawuli Ziorklui, said many people resorted to religious leaders for medical attention due to the lack of education from doctors and the ignorance of some patients.

He explained that orthodox medications sometimes did not work at the pace and way patients wanted, and so for instance, “if someone is diagnosed with hypertension and you give the person a monthly supply of medicine without saying anything, the patient will not know he has to be on the medication for life. As a result, this patient is likely to resort to other options thinking that orthodox medicine does not work”.

He, therefore, encouraged doctors and healthcare providers to give adequate education to their patients on their health conditions, adding that “education is crucial in health care. educating patients on their condition, the treatment and their role is very important”.

A pastor of the Assemblies of God Church, Pastor Enoch Adams Gyamerah, in an interview said the misappropriation of the gospel and the kind of adverts in the media are misleading people to seek medical help from sources other than orthodox medicine.

He said though the faith of a person could drive him or her to prayer camps and religious leaders for healing, the religious leaders must direct them to health centres for medical attention.

“God has ordained every medical person with wisdom to administer medication to patients. It is, therefore, wrong for people to seek medical attention from places other than the health centres built to provide health care,” he stated.

According to him, this situation is so partly because some pastors make it seem like everything depends on them and that they are the last stop for every condition.

“It is time people put on their thinking caps and did what is expected of them at every point in time,” he advised.


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