-Hospital-Prayer House Saga in Nigeria: When will it End?-
The ongoing Hospital-Prayer House saga in Cross River State, Nigeria, has triggered a lot of reactions from the government and pregnant women, respectively. While the government of Cross River State is trying hard to persuade pregnant women to shun prayer Houses and embrace better health services rendered in hospitals across the state, some pregnant women still continue to receive spiritual care from such Houses at the expense of Medicare in hospitals.
It is pertinent to note that spiritual care is the reason why some pregnant women do not buy the idea of going to the hospital for antenatal care. According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, spirituality is the quality of being concerned with religious matters or the human spirit.
Therefore, in this context, spiritual care means the presence of Pastors, Apostles and Bishops rather than the presence of medical personnel at the scene where a baby is being delivered. According to some pregnant women, the presence of spiritual leaders at the scene of child birth boosts their confidence about safe delivery.
An article from British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 2016 titled “Nigeria Campaign to Stop Women Giving Birth in Church” explained why spiritual care is needed in hospitals. That explanation is best highlighted in the words of one Ranson Linus Martin, a pregnant woman who was interviewed in a prayer House. She said:
“They do fasting and prayers here and if you are pregnant you need to go to the place where there is God and there is daily fasting and prayer. On the day of your delivery, God will help you and you will deliver successfully.”
With such perception, it becomes clear that making a law to ban birth attendance in prayer houses will not put this saga to bed. What should be done is to see how there will be an incorporation of spiritual care into our hospitals so that our pregnant women will be satisfied medically and spiritually.
The government should decide how to do this. We should have it at the back of our minds that the absence of spiritual care in hospitals is the reason why birth deliveries in prayer Houses has not dwindled. If this is fixed now, birth deliveries in prayer House will be non-existent in the near future.
– Elton Essesien Ita
Year 2 student, Department of Mass Communication
Cross River University of Technology, Calabar