Prayer camps turned into maternity homes
Some spiritual churches operating within the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis and other parts of the Western Region are creating anxiety for medical staff and workers in the area.
The churches, particularly the 12 Apostles Church, popularly called "Nakaba" in Western Region parlance, are said to be persuading pregnant women, who visit their churches for prayers not to go to hospital to be delivered of their babies but rather to deliver on the church premises in a special place called "Gardens".
According to Dr Sulley Ali Gabass, medical officer in charge of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at the Western Regional Hospital in Takoradi, most women who visit these churches are brought to the hospital deep in the night with serious complications, which is not good for the health of the women and their unborn babies.
He explained that during labour, there are processes the delivery system has to go through before the child finally comes out.
"But these women at various camps are forced to push the baby when the time is not due and this results in injuries to the uterus which leads to excessive bleeding that sometimes leads to the death of some of these women," be noted.
He explained that "when you force the uterus, it bleeds and the expectant mother could die after delivery. In the process, many blood vessels are destroyed.
"They do not know the anatomy and the physiology of childbirth. They tell the women to push. Therefore, the uterus is forced to open up for the child to come out. We are professionals and when the child proceeds with the hand or the head we know what to do to save the situation," he said.
He added that the sad aspect of the situation was that such cases were always referred to the hospital at night when other professionals such as the anaesthetists had closed and gone home.
He appealed to the church leaders not to take over the job of the medical professionals but encourage their congregation to seek medical attention at recognised health centres.
Dr Gabass said sometimes the patients after safe delivery narrate to the medical staff their horrific experiences at such prayer camps.
He said despite advice that pregnant women should visit medical facilities regularly to avert any complications when labour begins, "they do not come but prefer the prayer camps to the health facilities."
Asked if the problem was attributable to poverty, he said "that can never be the case. About 90 percent of those who are brought here are fully registered members of the National Health Insurance Scheme and they understand how it works."