In the field of public health especially in Africa with particular focus on my country Nigeria, factors which have impeded the delivery of health interventions or services are Social, Cultural and Religious beliefs.
In my area of research (HIV and Disability), many people still do not believe that Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) exist. Some other beliefs are that HIV is caused by witchcraft or as a punishment from God or a supreme being. For many years, public health suffered setbacks because of such beliefs. As a result of these beliefs, many people have taken to the use of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicines (TCAM) such as taking crude oil or urine, stopping medical treatment and going for prayers and deliverance. Some have even taken herbs all with foresight of ending the diseases. There are different types of TCAM captured in research and anecdotal reports that show different TCAMS used. In many cases, these have caused more damage to the individual and public health. In fact, I have lost very very close family relatives because of the use of TCAM and I hope to find the courage to share that story with you soon.
While these beliefs have caused some limitations to public health, they are not entirely bad because it is through the understanding of these beliefs that allow public health practitioners to fully conceptualise how to gain community entry with public health interventions. This is among other great reasons not within the remit of this post.
As we have seen with many public health diseases and with the little background I have presented to you regarding my area of public health research, it is clear that COVID-19 is going through that phase. While there is massive public health evidence to show how Corona Virus is contacted, many Nigerians now believe that it does not exist or perhaps Nigeria is too hot for it. I have lived in Lafia (Nasarawa State), Abuja and now in Australia and I can tell you from my experience that the part of Australia I am is sometimes hotter than Lafia (my town) or Abuja where I lived and worked. I do not need to cite the numbers of how many confirmed cases are in Australia in comparison to Nigeria. But to drive my point home: As at 3pm 23/03/2020, the total number confirmed cases in Australia is 1,709 while Nigeria on this same date has 35 confirmed cases (as attached my post).
Similarly, I watched a video on twitter (as attached) where a supposed Christian preacher bragged “What is Corona Virus where there is Corossive Anointing” implying that the power of God is bigger than any disease and so Christians who believe in God are immune to the pandemic. I have seen similar positions from some Islamic posts on twitter where a hair-like structure found in the Quran can cure COVID-19. However, I am not equipped to comment on that considering I am a Christian. As a Christian and a Public Health Practitioner, sometimes it is humanly tasking to draw a line between these contentions. However, as it has been with all other public health events, I choose to align with Public Health guidance on this.
In my twitter post (as attached), I have argued that COVID-19 is a PANDEMIC and not a RELIGIOMIC(note that the word RELIGIOMIC is a formed word just to drive my point home). It was declared a pandemic by Public Health Experts and NOT by Religious leaders. Understand this difference and be safe.
I am a Christian and I believe in God but I also believe that God can show his powers through public health as we have seen in many cases. A verse in the Christian Bible reads: “My people perish for lack of Knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). I have chosen to not perish by adhering to the public health knowledge on COVID-19. How about you?
This is not a morality or religious post but simply a post to say that COVID-19 is a PANDEMIC and not a RELIGIOMIC.