Mother de­nies child med­i­cal treat­ment

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SOCIETY - Fa­tima Bulla and Veron­ica Gwaze

THE life of an eight-year-old boy from Budiriro is un­der se­ri­ous threat and the boy’s mother doesn’t seem to care.

“Our faith does not al­low us to go to hos­pi­tal no mat­ter what. If God al­lows, he can die. It will not be the first, ev­ery­where there are grave­yards,” said the mother.

Is this what reli­gion can do to peo­ple?

The boy’s par­ents are mem­bers of the African Apos­tolic Sect of Jo­hanne Marange. They are adamant that even if the boy is sick, they will not take him to hos­pi­tal for treat­ment.

As a re­sult, since the schools opened for the third term, the boy has only man­aged to at­tend lessons for four days.

Last week, the boy tried to at­tend lessons, but had to be taken home af­ter fall­ing sick.

The boy is said to be suf­fer­ing from ton­sili­tis as he is strug­gling to speak while the mother said he had stom­ach prob­lems.

Upon vis­it­ing the home in Budiriro, the mother who only iden­ti­fied her­self as Mrs Marira told The Sun­day Mail

So­ci­ety that it was bet­ter for her child to die than seek med­i­cal help which was against the be­liefs aligned to her church.

“I thought that you were med­i­cal of­fi­cials who had come from the hos­pi­tal to treat my child. I was go­ing to refuse and tell you that our be­liefs do not sub­scribe to that,” she said.

The Jo­hanne Marange sect re­quires mem­bers to seek heal­ing through prayer and faith for­sak­ing con­ven­tional med­i­cal meth­ods. A source who tipped The Sun­day Mail

So­ci­ety said the child con­tin­ued to see lesser and lesser days in school spend­ing his time at home with­out the par­ents seek­ing med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

They added that it was wor­ry­ing how the par­ents were not moved by the sickly con­di­tion of their child.

“It’s wor­ry­ing to see a child go­ing through such ex­pe­ri­ences due to the be­liefs of the par­ents. His con­di­tion is wor­ry­ing and we hear the child is be­ing given holy wa­ter.

“At one time the teacher was made to un­der­stand that the boy was re­ceiv­ing treat­ment only to dis­cover that it was the holy wa­ter they get from the church that he was be­ing pre­scribed to take,” the source said.

The is­sue of reli­gion in­fring­ing on chil­dren’s rights mainly to ed­u­ca­tion and health has been the sub­ject of de­bate for many years.

Many apos­tolic sects have de­nied their chil­dren ac­cess tos im­mu­ni­sa­tion with many risk­ing their chil­dren’s lives.

Chil­dren’s Rights

The Gov­ern­ment in the past years has moved in through var­i­ous min­istries, for in­stance Health and Child Care, to work with such re­li­gious groups to bring aware­ness on the challenges of bar­ring chil­dren from their right to ac­cess health.

And in­di­ca­tions were that, the ini­tia­tive has made great strides as some Apos­tolic sects were be­gin­ning to co-op­er­ate.

The Union for De­vel­op­ment of Apos­tolic Church in Zim­babwe (UDACIZA) came up with the Apos­tolic Strate­gic Ac­tion Plan for 2014-2016 to en­cour­age mem­ber de­nom­i­na­tions to pro­mote the well-be­ing of chil­dren.

Last year the as­so­ci­a­tion was quoted in the me­dia high­light­ing that they were mak­ing head­way to en­sure that chil­dren en­joyed their rights.

Min­istry of Pub­lic Ser­vice, Labour and So­cial Wel­fare le­gal and pro­fes­sional ad­vi­sor Pre­cious Sibiya called the na­tion to prompt ac­tion in safe­guard­ing the rights of chil­dren.

“That child is de­fined as a child in need of care and as such is vul­ner­a­ble. It then calls for the Depart­ment of So­cial Wel­fare to act ex­pe­di­tiously be­cause the child is in dan­ger and at risk,” she said.

United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund (Unicef) com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist El­iz­a­beth Bessie Mup­fu­mira said they are work­ing to­gether with the So­cial Wel­fare Depart­ment to en­sure chil­dren’s rights are up­held.

Ex­plain­ing their op­er­a­tions she said: “The Child­line ac­cesses the sit­u­a­tion and we ca­pac­i­tate the Child­line. In some cases we even have to in­volve the po­lice force to res­cue the mi­nors,” she said.

Zim­babwe is a sig­na­tory to the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Ar­ti­cle 3 which pro­vides for the best in­ter­ests of the child states: “The best in­ter­ests of chil­dren must be the pri­mary con­cern in mak­ing de­ci­sions that may af­fect them. All adults should do what is best for chil­dren. When adults make de­ci­sions, they should think about how their de­ci­sions will af­fect chil­dren. This par­tic­u­larly ap­plies to bud­get, pol­icy and law mak­ers.”

In ad­di­tion Ar­ti­cle 6, which fo­cuses on the sur­vival and de­vel­op­ment of a child, high­lights the role of the Gov­ern­ment say­ing: “Chil­dren have the right to live. Gov­ern­ments should en­sure that chil­dren sur­vive and de­velop healthily.”

Mrs Marira re­sponds to The Sun­day Mail So­ci­ety while her son sits in the back­ground

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