Senior journalist, Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako has condemned spiritualists who have linked a fatal health crisis in Kumasi Academy (KUMACA) to spiritual causes.
The Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper said such intepretations only add to public panic following the death of four students of Kumasi Academy(KUMACA) in the Ashanti region. They died from what has been confirmed as Influenza Type A (H1N1) known as swine flu. But while the cause of death took at least one week to confirm, panicking parents besieged the school to demand for the release of their wards. Some in Kumasi attributed the myterious deaths to a river deity in the area who may have been angered by some of the students. A popular pastor Isaac Owusu Bempah also blamed evil spirits.
“The spirit is hovering around the dining hall and when the children are eating, the spirit invokes death through their meals. What is happening is in the dining hall”. Some other pastors went to the school with their members to pray for students and teachers. But Mr Baako has asked Ghanaians to ignore “osofo mokos” (fake pastors and prophets), he believes are worsening the situation.
He said the “space” for identifying the cause of the health crisis has to be left for the health experts.The veteran journalists expressed worry at what he perceives is an increasing emergence of pastors who surface to explain tragedies or claim to have seen some such tragedy in the spiritual realms before it occurred. “It is becoming too rampant”, he said. “We are quite a superstitious people…[but this] is not good [because] it adds to the panic,” he told Samson Lardy Anyenini, host of Joy FM/MultiTV’s news analysis programme Newsfile Saturday.
Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Emmanuel Akwetey has lauded the Health Ministry for crisis-intervention efforts. “The intervention has been swift and assuring,” he said, charging health officers to sustain public education about the disease. Meanwhile, the government has promised to bear the full funeral expenses of the four Kumasi Academy (KUMACA) students who died after they contracted the swine flu virus. An initial sum of ¢5,000 has each been given to the families of the deceased persons, to start the burial arrangements.