Faith-based healers at Biriwa in the Mfantsiman Municipality of the Central Region have been criticized for impeding attempts to minimize the rising rate of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis B in the community.

They have been accused of, among other impediments, keeping in their prayer camps and shrines people suffering from the diseases and denying them of or delaying their access to better, orthodox treatment.

Though other factors like migration and misinformation on the ailments have been cited for the soaring cases, the actions of the faith-based healers in the fishing community has been ranked a key factor.

The revelations were made over the week by Dr. Caesar Atuiyere, the President of AMICUS ONLUS, a non-governmental organisation that owns the Baobab Medical Centre at Biriwa, at a free medical screening for the community.

Citing Africans’ known spirituality as the reason, Dr. Atuiyere said, “The African way of seeing things is that the human being is not just a body; Western medicine sees the human as a body. We see the human being as body and spirit, but what tends to happen is when people are sick, instead of curing both body and spirit, sometimes they look for only spiritual solutions to the detriment of the body, and when things are really bad they come to us at the clinic”.

On his part, the Administrator of the Baobab Medical Centre, Isaac Baiden, added that, the opinion leaders of the community have not also helped in fighting the communicable diseases as the organization of public education is usually frustrating due to the chieftaincy disputes at Biriwa, saying, “At times you don’t even know whom to talk to; you go to this person and they don’t seem to have any interest in it”.

Commenting on the challenges posed by faith-based healers, Mr. Baiden noted that, the religious leaders do not collaborate with the medical centre in fighting the diseases because they appear to think orthodox healing is a threat to their spiritual method that serves as their source of income.

However, Mr. Baiden indicated that, it is ironic that some of the religious leaders quickly come to the Centre when they are unwell, revealing that, “Even with headaches, those people will seek treatment, and even when they come, they want to have preferential treatment.”

The Baobab Medical Centre at Biriwa was established in 2005, and has since cured over three hundred thousand people, mainly combining treatment with health awareness campaigns on preventive measures, free screening and community mobile health assistance in nearby villages.

Biriwa, lying along the Accra-Cape Coast highway, has a population of about ten thousand people, who are mostly fisher folks, and the inhabitants are a combination of indigenes, workers in the formal sector, and migrants from other fishing communities from the Western Region and other places.