This paper yesterday published a story under the headline ‘Successful surgery saves baby born with rare head condition’. It was a story about Alphonsine Mukankuranga’s baby who was born with a rare head condition that was initially attributed to witchcraft.
Luckily she was saved by a referral to a major hospital in Kigali where the baby was diagnosed with a medical condition called Encephalocele, also known as cranium bifidum, a neural tube defect that manifests during pregnancy.
Had it not been for this intervention, the poor woman would have succumbed to pressure from people who claimed that the condition was the work of witchcraft and had advised her to get rid of the baby as a solution.
Mukankuranga’s story is a reminder that we still have more to do in terms of sensitising people about the need to always visit professional health professionals.
Although this was a medical condition, the desperate mother was advised by people in her area to end the life of the baby if she was to survive the spell of witch craft.
Such cases are not uncommon in especially in villages where people seek services from traditional healers based on ignorance.
Local leaders and stakeholders in the health sector should intensify efforts to sensitise the public that the solution to any ill health is visiting a registered medical personnel and not traditional healers.
Authorities should crackdown on those who pose as witchdoctors to take advantage of gullible people.
Indeed some of these medical conditions can be managed locally like the case of baby Niyegena which was ably handled by Dr Severien Muneza, a neuro surgeon at Kigali Teaching Hospital (CHUK).
With the current universal medical insurance scheme, no Rwandan should fail to seek professional medical help.
Niyigena’s family parted with only Rwf15, 000 for the operation because she was covered under Mituelle de Sante insurance.