There is increasing recognition within contemporary western medicine of the significant links between spirituality/religion and health, and the need for health professionals to understanding their patients’ spiritual/religious beliefs and practices because they can affect:
• the way people understand health, illness, diagnoses, recovery and loss
• the strategies they use to cope with illness
• their resilience, resources and sense of support
• decision-making about treatment, medicine and self-care
• people’s expectations of and relationship with health service providers
• day-to-day health practices and lifestyle choices
• overall health outcomes
But in Nigeria it seems daily we take this to another lever entirely. Spirituality/religiosity per se is not necessarily an indicator for better health outcomes because the relationship between beliefs, practices and health can be negative or neutral as well as positive. The critical factor is not if someone is spiritual/religious, but how they are spiritual/religious. This may be influenced by a myriad of factors including culture, family ties and social networks, and life events such as health crises, trauma and loss of a loved one.
Spirituality and religion in Africa And Nigeria
Spirituality is an important aspect of life for many Africans most especially Nigerians, with two thirds of people stating that spirituality is significant in their lives, and nearly three quarters of the population (74%) professing some form of religious affiliation. These figures are higher in rural (86%) and elderly (83%) populations, and tend to increase when people experience illness or injury. Trends suggest that traditional religiosity is in decline, but that spirituality has grown, as Nigerians increasingly turn to a range of healers, miracle workers and diverse faiths.
On the 23rd of January 2016 a story broke out in the dailypost paper about a Ghanaian psychiatrist, Dr Awakame Julius of NHS in the North Essex Partnership Foundation Trust, UK, was sacked after he advised a patient to get help from TB Joshua’s 24-hour church TV channel, Emmanuel TV because she might be possessed by demonic forces.
On the 12th of December 2016 also a nurse with 15 years working experience, Sarah Kuteh, was relieved of her job at a UK hospital, Darent Valley hospital in Dartford, Kent, for discussing christianity and offering to pray with patients before their operations and according to UK Daily Mail, the nurse had breached guidelines, even though her job involved asking people preparing for surgery about their religion. According to her bosses at Dartford and Gravesham National Health Service, NHS Trust, her discussions were unwanted and this had upset patients. They also claimed that Kuteh failed to heed warnings that she was being unprofessional.
Back here in Nigeria, on the 22nd of January 2018 an ABUTH Nurse was suspended indefinitely for seemingly sharing an inciteful and derogatory post on a watsapp group. Some Nurses who had asked to remain annonymous when asked said that "the Nurse who was suspended maintained that she had mistakenly forwarded the message after it was sent to her to their nursing whatsapp group."
An except from the post sent to the whatsapp page read: "IF U LIKE REMOVE ME FROM THIS GROUP I DON'T CARE BUT READ. From what I see today in Nigeria I am very certain that Muslims would not need to use a violent Jihad to islamize Nigeria. CHRISTIANS themselves will be used by Muslims to islamize Nigeria. Just ask yourself how Muslim nations became Islamic nations? Is there any record of them doing evangelistic work? Did they tell people about how wonderful their prophet xxx is...... Please don't tell me you can never be lured with money. It has already started in Imo and Ebonyi states. So we must fervently PRAY NOW.......SEND TO MANY CHRISTIANS ALL OVER THE NATION TO LIFT UP HOLY HANDS......IT IS URGENT. TAKE IT SERIOUS MY BRETHREN PLS. Heaven is a witness u received this message. Forwarded as received."
After the post was sent to the group, there was said to be an outcry by members of the group and the matter was reported to the management of the hospital which responded by suspending the nurse indefinitely over the inflamatory nature of the post.
An Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital statement dated 15th January 2018 said: The Management has noticed with serious dismay the article posted on the social media platform of National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM). ABUTH. Branch which evidently emanates from you. The posting is religiously offensive and injurious and is capable of causing religious chaos in the Hospital and beyond The act is a gross misconduct prejudicial to the security of the State. In the light of the above you are hereby indefinitely suspended from the services of the Hospital with immediate effect in accordance with the Section 4 of the Public Service Rule Nv.03040Z. until further notice.
Over spirituality truthfully seems to be the bane of the profession in Nigeria. Nurses would keep on praying, casting and binding, having fellowships and the like, with the belief that only God will fight our battles and reward us instead of taking actions needed so much so that i guess that might be one of the reasons we were recently called and placed as sub-professionals.
There have been scenerios where some Hospital Matrons have been heard telling Nurses on duty during an emergency to leave a bleeding patient to come and pray... what type of prayers exactly you have to wonder?
This writer is pretty sure that I might be castigated for writing this but to call a spade what exactly it is, it tends to piss this writer off whwn you see such happening and try to correct it, you are seen as a devil/demon. At some facilities every Wednesday is fellowship at the nurses station and attendance is mandatory.
They will tell you it's spiritual care. The thing is they have no idea how this actually applies in nursing
Always you get to see patients just standing around and watching most times with no other choice because so far the "NURSES" are praying NOTHING MOVES be it records and the Lab even doctors can't attend to patients until they finish mostly for an hour or more. Try going incognito around patients whle such goes on and you might hear words like "preaching no go allow us rest but na them wicked pass... see that one..."
These days most Nurses have turned Assembly which holds once in a month between staff and student nurses to another form of fellowship. Individuals that came down to discuss and decide on what to do and how to move the profession forward would end up hearing testimonies and the like. I guess thats what happens when students are not in the know of contemporary nursing issues, some folks decided to turn Assembly into fellowship. While writing this a friend commented that the last prayer session attended in school the preacher was even scolding them for not coming to the class with their Bibles even going as far as saying "your phone Bible app" is simply nothing.
And it has been like that for years
A Nurse had once been overheard advising a patient on admission to seek spiritual healing for her son's case even when the health minister recently was quoted as aying Nigerians should take their loved ones to the hospital on time for care and not when the case can not be managed anymore after running around different faith houses. One of these days the "You Know Who's" would use this against Nurses, when that day comes who exactly are we going to blame then?
Recently a nurse was sacked from her place of work because she couldn't join in their compulsory night prayers held every two thursday of the month and Mid Wednesday. Though it should be pointed out that one of the criteria for employment at the facility is that "... You must accept to be come for night vigils, whether you are comfortable or not, once you want to work there."
Also I just read a message from a nursing collegue who served in the north, Katsina State and were to be retained due to the low staff strength in the state, but to their surprise after completing all necessary documentation they were called to read a letter which came directly from the health management board of the state addressed to all none Muslims that were supposed to be retained. Parts of the letter included a paragraph asking said indivduals to denounce Christianity and become Muslims and also to submit proof of religious switch by adopting a Muslim name before their employment latter could be prepared.
When asked for proof of this accusation, the individual who leaked the information replied that they were not allowed to take a copy of the letter nor did they have any chance to take a shot of the incriminating letter. They were jsut called to the office and asked to read the letter and reply.
At this junction you have to wonder "what happened to the ethics of do not impose your values and beliefs on others. Or does this only concern our patients?"
I would end with these words from someone i respect and cherish, he once said and i qoute: "Sometimes Nursing is like nairabet, It would look so good until you choose it, Then it will cut your ticket"
Next Up: Doctor’s Stamp and one sided fight against quackery
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