ZIMBABWE: When Privilege Gatsi (not real name) gave birth to her second born in June last year, she did not notice that her baby had some complications until she was 3-months old.
She later discovered a low growth pattern, the head grew big and stiffness of her body parts.
The child could not move or sit, and they are sceptical if the child can see or hear as her eyes cannot follow any movement that passes by her front or throbbed by any sound.
Seeking spiritual healing
However, Gatsi noticed the problem when the baby was 3-months old, she visited different Johanne Masowe Apostolic religious sects, where she was given different versions of prophecy.
Johanne Masowe is one of the most influential sects when it comes to spiritual and physical problems.
Due to factionalism within the denomination, it has infinite sects with different brands but falls under the umbrella term “Johanne Masowe” who was the founder of the early church.
At first, she was told that she contacted an evil person when she was pregnant, on the second visit to a different prophet, she was told that it was her father-in-law brother’s wife.
“Where l am going currently the spiritualist told me it is my real mother-in-law who wants my child dead.
“He said through the anointed stones (nhombo) he gave me will make her make her strip whatever she put on my baby”, Gatsi told Transcontinental Times.
What puzzles most, is all of these so-called spiritualists (who brand themselves as prophets) claim to have the know-how to heal the problem that befell the baby spiritually, but nothing materialized.
Many people have been confounded and misguided by the spiritualists who claim to solve problems encountered which in many cases stir up tensions, accusations and family break-ups among others.
Unfortunately, a lot of people have been blindfolded by this spiritual guidance as they put all their trust in them and ignore the importance of medical treatment of diseases and courses that they should take when physically ill.
Close friends to Gatsi advised her to go with the baby to the hospital but she was adamant.
“We advised her several times, but you can visibly see that she is not interested because at times she feels out of place or gets angry as she believes her baby was bewitched”, said one of the friends identified herself as Priscilla.
Despite the differences in doctrines between Apostolic Sects and Ministerial churches, they have the same ideology of being healed through anointed stuff like bangles, water, soil among others; to this end, several people stop taking drugs in the name of spiritual healing.
Rural and Urban Council Nurses Workers Union President, Simbarashe Tafirenyika said at some instances, healing through spiritualists may occur co-incidentally while pointed the lack of knowledge on how to handle some other health complications.
Lack of knowledge and proper facilities
“These spiritualists have no know-how of situations like hypothermia (low temperature) as sometimes they continuously pour water on a sick person as a way of casting a problem or disease which may sometimes lead to death.
“There is also a challenge of inappropriate facilities which can be witnessed by the unsterilization of equipment used during the healing service”, he told Transcontinental Times.
The unsterilization of equipment can be attested by the drinking of water or any other liquid in one clay pot to all congregants.
In some cases, the spiritualist can dip hands in the water as a way of cleansing before the circulation.
Poor service delivery in public health institutions
However, Tafirenyika said the poor health system in the country has driven people to seek spiritual guidance where they are urgently attended.
He points blanked shenanigans and hostility of staff as well as the shortage of drugs in public health institutions.
“Go slow due to poor remuneration has hindered proper service delivery, so people opt for spiritual guidance because they are quickly attended.
“Also the closure of health institutions, for example, Mabvuku Polyclinic was closed and pregnant women have to travel to Mbare for ante-natal care”, he said.
The situation in public health institutions has left people with no other option other than relying on spiritualists.
Unfortunately, some patients are kindly asked to default drugs as some spiritualists claim the diseases to be associated with evil spirits.
Nowadays it is rare in Zimbabwe to travel for 5 kilometres without passing by a praying shrine.
The danger with these spiritualists is they despise each other which make it difficult to make the right decisions on who to follow.
Nevertheless, genuine spiritualists exist who can advise medical treatment, but many question their faith.
In Gatsi’s situation, her baby’s health is deteriorating as she is only relying on spiritual guidance.
Whereas even in the traditional society, spiritualists could give medicine and because they understood that there is a need to balance health both spiritually and medically.