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Clerics Advised To Send Sick Members To Hospitals

Clerics Advised To Send Sick Members To Hospitals

Clerics Advised To Send Sick Members To Hospitals

Clerics Advised To Send Sick Members To Hospitals

The Akwa Ibom State administration and Breakthrough Action-Nigeria, a USAID-funded project in the state, have urged religious leaders in the state to always send their ill members to the hospital rather than keeping them in their prayer rooms.

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Both the BA-N Program Officer and the Commissioner of Health, Prof. Augustine Umoh, delivered these remarks separately on Monday during a two-day training.

The training for religious leaders on priority practice behavior in malaria, TB, and COVID-19 was conducted by the state government in collaboration with BA-N and held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Prof Umoh said the call became necessary following rising cases of avoidable deaths due to the failure of patients to get medical attention in time as most of them run to their pastors and Imams for prayers instead of going to the hospital for proper tests and treatments.

Clerics Advised To Send Sick Members To Hospitals

He said considering the influence these religious leaders (pastors and Imams) wield on their followers, they should use it to change people’s health-related social behaviors and strengthen community participation during pandemics and emergencies.

“l recognize the critical role of faith-based organizations/religious leaders in providing social aid and support, facilitating behavioral change as well as mobilizing communities.

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“I urge you to take advantage of the training and take the key messages for dissemination to your various constituencies and congregations.

“Averagely, a child dies every two minutes from malaria while tuberculosis kills about 18 persons per hour.”

In her remarks, Bernard regretted that some pregnant women in the state especially multiple birth mothers do not register for antenatal clinics early as they claim they know everything about childbirth.

Clerics Advised To Send Sick Members To Hospitals

She said some do not only register at the 32nd week of pregnancy but go to traditional birth attendants largely run by faith-based organizations.

“We encourage our people to go to the clinic. We had the situation of a woman who lost her twins in TBA. Upon delivery, there was placenta retention which is far beyond traditional birth attendants.

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“The TBAs are also faith-based. Some women who manage to come to a clinic when you give them drugs will say, ‘No, I must go back to my TBA so that she can unlock me before I can take the drugs.’

“These are the issues we are having. We are talking about giving SP to pregnant women for malaria prevention,” she said.

However, the state coordinator of BA-N, Bassey Nsa, who spoke with newsmen, said the organization recognizes the important role of religious leaders in behavior change of their association hence their involvement in the health programs.

Clerics Advised To Send Sick Members To Hospitals

“We’ve been working with religious leaders for a long time. They have been creating awareness and referring people to hospitals to access health services. They integrate all these messages into their religious sermons,” he said.

Also speaking, the senior pastor of Insight Bible Church, Pastor Sylvanus Ukafia, also a medical doctor, said pastors who fail to encourage their members to go to the hospital could be result of ignorance.

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He said, “I am a pastor’s trainer. Why we are here is to see how to influence behavior within our community so that men of God can respond right to medical issues.

“We look at where we are lagging behind as pastors and how we can interact with other pastors who are doing anything risky.

“We’ll keep working with them until they understand what the scripture says. It’s basically ignorance!

Clerics Advised To Send Sick Members To Hospitals

“The Bible says men doing good like a medicine. We are trying to reach such pastors knowing that if we don’t reach them, they are going to mislead the people and that is why we are actively working with them. It is something we can work out.”

Also, Alhaji Ahmed Isa of the State Council for Islamic Affairs said the training has given them room to disabuse the minds of his people of so many myths and misconceptions about going to the hospital.

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Isa, who admitted that the level of access to medical services by his people was low, promised to change the narrative by passing the information across to them through sermons and other available mediums.


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