Body & Health

OUTSPOKEN: Debby Baro Shares How Religious Beliefs Still Hold Some Women Back From Getting Medical Help.


Sick woman taking her temperature

Belief systems in many African societies form basis of a number of their values too. While they have lived with these through generations, some of such beliefs may have been helpful, and some others, damaging to the people. This makes it necessary to embrace change and see how things work in other improved systems.

While the issue of traditional beliefs is still being addressed, many people have also continued to deny themselves of the right and opportunity to access proper medical care due to their religious beliefs.

In a recent study conducted between October 2012 and March 2013 by the One Page Africa Research Team in Lagos, as part of an advocacy to help women with goitre access proper medical care, the effort did not yield encouraging results.

It was disturbing to know that all three different women who were approached by the research team, who did not know one another, who were of different ages, who resided in different parts of the Lagos metropolis, held on to beliefs that caused them to reject an offer for proper treatment.

The first woman, in her mid-thirties, is a trader. She hails from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and spoke in simple understandable English language. The goitre had grown quite big and appeared to be very disturbing to her.

After explaining to her that she could get proper medical care to remove the goitre, she argued that the remedy was beyond medical care. She was convinced that she had been under a ‘spiritual attack’and that it was only the ‘deliverance’ by her pastor that could bring a solution to her plight. About four months after, her condition hadn’t changed, not even with all the lacerations that were done on the surface of her bulging neck.

The second woman was 62 years old and also a trader. She hails from the Niger Delta region just like the first woman. She communicated well in Pidgin English language. She believed that ‘one of her enemies’ had sent an attack of goitre against her; therefore, it would only be cured by a ‘prayer warrior’ whom she goes to visit on a weekly appointment. She could not turn her neck, owing to the size of the goitre.

The third woman was 40years old and hails from Oshun State. She worked in an office on the Lagos Mainland. Her spoken English was very good. She vowed never to subject herself to the surgeon’s knife, but would continue to pray until the goitre disappeared. She said that her Christian faith does not permit her to take medication, but prayers!

The Christian book- the Bible, says God wants His children to be in good health, and of sound mind. Seeking proper medical help from a trained medical personnel would only be in line with God’s word and not otherwise, in my opinion.

It is sad how some people have allowed beliefs to becloud their sense of reason and keep them bound in ill-health.


Writer: Debby ‘Baro is trained in Mass Communication, with a special interest in PR and Communication for Development. She loves to discuss Health and Gender issues. She keeps her date on Email Debby at
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    April 30, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Very sad stories….I know someone who son died just because they refused blood transition…saying it was against their beliefs.



    April 30, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Its sad how we sometimes allow ignorance hold us back. So many have lost their lives because they refused medical help. People need to understand that medication is not an indication of a lack of faith.

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