Something sinister is taking place in communities around Saboba, Chereponi and Sang near Yendi in northern Ghana. Innocent children are being killed because they are either born deformed or their mothers died giving birth to them.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” says Catholic sister, Stan Terese Mario Mumuni, fighting her emotions as she cuddles a two-year-old boy, one of 30 rescued children under her care at the Nazareth Home for God’s Children in Sang.
“This boy should have been killed but Father Cletus Akosah, the parish priest for Sang, moved quickly to save him,” says Sister Terese. “His late mother’s relatives accepted the witchdoctor’s verdict on the boy: that he was the cause of his mother’s death and for this reason he should not be allowed to live.”
Sentenced by ignorance
Maternal death can largely be attributed to a lack of health services in these remote areas. Unfortunately, ignorance has made the people attribute these deaths to witchcraft.
The total number of children who have suffered death at the recommendations of witchdoctors is unknown because few report such matters to police. “We know that it is due to the lack of education in the area, and we are trying to use the few who have become Christians to report to us when such issues come up,” says Father Akosah.
Father Akosah pointed to another boy in the care home who was going to be killed because of a leg deformity. “The witch-doctor attributed this deformity to witchcraft and it was decided that the poor boy must be killed. Luckily for him, I was informed and I moved in to save his life.”
Sister Terese is able to look after these children thanks largely to donations. “I have made sure that they go to school and are fed three times a day. I also employ people to look after the very young ones.”
Villages such as Sang have no nearby health facilities and most women depend on traditional birth attendants. The national government has increased its education campaign on how to prevent maternal death during childbirth. But very little of this information reaches where the tradition of child killing is practiced.
Last month, the Ghana Health Service (GHS), as part of its safe motherhood strategy, began a pilot project of distributing Misoprostol to expectant mothers in some regions of the country. The drug helps with the prevention of postpartum hemorrhaging.
The national maternal death rate is 350 per 100,000 live births with approximately 24 percent of these deaths resulting from hemorrhaging, according to GHS. In addition, 42 percent of women in the country deliver at home; while 95 per cent attend at least one antenatal care at a health facility during pregnancy.
Meanwhile, in the region around Sang, the death of mothers is often not being blamed on hemorrhaging but on the babies themselves.
Source: Radio Netherlands