The ritual of killing innocent orphaned or disabled children perceived as demons or spirits in some communities in the Upper East Region is fading as a result of sustained socio-economic interventions, Mr. Raymond Ayinne, a development activist, has said.
"In an unfortunate instance of the death of a woman during delivery, the innocent child who survives could be perceived as a spirit child who is believed to have caused the mother's death."
Under such circumstances, poisonous concoctions are forced down the throat of the child after which, it is abandoned in groves or forest to die.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview at the launch of a community sensitization programme at Zorko-Kanga in the Bongo District, Mr. Ayinne, who heads the External Affairs of Afrikids Ghana, a Child Welfare and Protection NGO, explained that children born with deformities are also perceived to be "spirit children".
He stated that one of the communities where the practice was common was the Pumulgu-Sherigu in the Kassena-Nankana West District and said Afrikids Ghana initiated a project dubbed: "Operation Sherigu" in that community with the aim of eliminating the practice.
Mr. Ayinne explained that through educational durbars organized at the communities to sensitize the Chiefs and people in the area, the practice had ebbed considerably.
He said the NGO was able to form associations of people who were engaged in the killings of the "spirit children" and convinced them to shed the dangerous and baseless perceptions they held against the innocent children.
In addition, the people were supported with funds to engage in alternative income generating activities which led them into a real and more physical world of commerce and industry resulting in the drastic reduction of the practise.
According to Mr Ayinne, his outfit also established a Child Health Centre in the community where the "spirit children' were sheltered while his outfit negotiated with their family to accept and nurture them.
He stated that micro-credit packages were given out to women in the area to undertake viable economic ventures to take good care of themselves and their children.
Mr. Ayinne further indicated that Afrikids Ghana worked closely with the Ghana Health Service especially with its Community based Health Planning Centres where pregnant women went for anti-natal and post-natal care.
Mr. Joseph Asak-bem, Project Manager for Operation at Sherigu, said the project which was started eight years ago in the Pulmulgu-Sherigu community has made significant impact in the that Community so it was being replicated in other communities where the practice was prevalent.
Ms. Rufina Asure, Bongo District Director of Health Service, said they were ever ready to partner Afrikids Ghana especially, in the area of nutrition, anti-natal and post anti-natal services.
The Assemblyman for the Zorko-Kanga, Mr. Alexis Ayamdor, commended the NGO for extending the project to the area and pledged his support for the elimination of the infanticide.
He deployed certain negative cultural practices such as widowhood rites, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) among others and said such practices should be eliminated since they infringed on the fundamental human rights of citizens.