Between diabetes and witchcraft

My very first encounter with diabetes was as a child when we used to sit around the radio and television listening to documentaries on true life events in our community.
These documentaries that feature various life stories are also a complete blend of community events, metaphysics, spiritual and hard to believe true life stories.

Interesting among these stories was that of a woman who had a deep cut wound believed to be inflicted on her by aggrieved neighbors who wanted to punish her, but rather than kill the woman she was inflicted with a wound that refused to heal (this was aimed at slowly killing her, the commentator claimed).

Growing up was a little scary with a mind set that it's possible to be inflicted with a wound that would refuse to heal despite all forms of treatment and that it could be gotten by a voodoo done on the sandals worn by the person.

But as I got into medical school and got introduced to basic and clinical medicine I realized the vacuum of knowledge that existed in my community as regards diabetes and its complications.
Through the motivation of my lecturers in school, I got involved in diabetes advocacy and community outreaches.

The community outreaches which were organized with colleagues gave us first hand access to the community and this also inspired the curiosity into a research studying the Impact of religion and culture (the beck rock of African civilization) on the awareness ,knowledge and attitude of members of the community to diabetes prevention (Type2) and care.

This research work is innovative as it builds on the psychosocial effects of the fundamental belief system of a community in Ogun State, in South West Nigeria on diabetes prevention and care.
An email reference from Manny Hernandez from a tu-diabetes contact in Uganda also attributing diabetes to witchcraft made him suggest featuring the abstract on tu-diabetes which I support absolutely.

Thus I am including the pilot study conducted by us and accepted at the European Molecular Biology Research Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany (2012).

African health care development should put into consideration the religiocultural inclinations of the continent, else most innovative health care programs will always fail due to non acceptance especially if such projects run contrary to what they believe in.
If you're interested in diabetes care in africa kindly find time to read THE DYNAMICS OF DIABETES CARE IN A DEVELOPING WORLD




AUTHORS: Dr Odusan Olatunde1, Adejumo Hakeem2, Sogbein Oladayo2, Dauda Mobolaji2

1 Department of Medicine, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye
2 Faculty of Clinical Sciences, Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu

Corresponding Author: Adejumo Hakeem (MBBS in View)


To assess the impact of Religion and culture on Diabetic Control in Nigeria.


This study is descriptive in nature and a randomized sampling method was utilized in Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria.
Data collection was by questionnaire distribution and interviewer method was done for the illiterates.
Data Analysis was done by a statistical analysis program SPSS and run for results


Our Result findings reflect a higher percentage of female respondents (61%), with (56%) of the total respondents within the age range (19-29) years.

6% of our total respondent are traders by profession, 23% are in the teaching profession, 2.4% are professionals, 68.5% are unemployed.

60% of the Total Respondents are Christians, 39% are Muslims & 1% Traditional.

On whose opinion is valued most by our total respondents in preventing illness:

Doctors (56%), Family (33%), Clergy (7%), Community Elders (3%), Friends(1%)

When our Respondents feel sick who do they talk to?

Doctors (48%), Family (43%), Clergy (5%), Community Elders (1%), Friends(3%)

Whose idea counts most by our respondents when ill:

Doctors (50%), Family (40%), Friends(3%), Clergy(7%)

We also observed that 74% of total Respondents are aware of Diabetes but about 31% of this figure (40% of Total Respondent) have inadequate or wrong idea about D.M with ideologies reflected to their religious and cultural belief system!

25% of Total respondents believe its an infection
(39% Christians, 59% Muslims, 2% Traditional)
15% of Total Respondents believe it can be caused by witchcraft
(79% Christians,17% Muslims, 4% Traditional)
51% of total respondents believe it is curable
(54% Christians, 44% Muslims, 2% Traditional)
10% of total respondents believe it can come as a punishment from God
(63% Christians, 31% Muslims, 6% Traditional)
55% of total respondents believe it can kill
(62% Christians, 37% Muslims, 1% Traditional)

If diabetes is left untreated:
6% of Total Respondents believes it can lead to blindness
14% of Total Respondents believes it can lead to stroke
42% of Total Respondents believes it can lead to Kidney failure
22% of Total Respondents believes it can lead to heart failure
1% of Total Respondents believes it can lead to limb amputation
10% of Total Respondents believes it can lead to sexual dysfunction
6% of Total Respondents believes it can lead all the complications listed


There are many Respondent with wrong or inadequate information on DM though are aware it.
Culture and Religion to a large extent affects Relationship & attitude of a client to the Doctor
It affects their idea/belief about the diseases, treatment with many believing in laid down Family cultural practices than medical opinion!
It is Alarming that only a Fragment of our Respondents believe in Untreated Diabetes Leading to Limb Amputation.
Doctors are important in Preventive medicine.
Due to the out of pocket expenditure at clinics people are reluctant to talk to Doctors

This is great.
Am always happy to see people especially non africans help the African people who unfortunately have been plaqued by bad leadership, poverty, illiteracy and also a system that would rather celebrate ostentatious display of wealth over philanthropy.

Thank you so much for the insight. Education about diabetes is so important, and so lacking (including here in the US). There is always more involved than medicine, be it cultural beliefs, stigma, religion, fear. These important factors need to be addressed within or in addition to the medical aspects of diabetes. So glad you're looking at the whole picture! Please keep posting ;)