Prayer, Spatial and Health-Seeking Beliefs in Ghana

Monday, 16 July 2018: 19:00
Oral Presentation
Michael OKYEREFO, University of Ghana, Ghana
Daniel FIAVEH, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, Ghana
Few studies have examined the relationship between religiosity and health seeking belief outcomes in Ghana. Yet, religion functions to influence individual and groups’ perceived outcomes and by extension behaviour. Using in-depth interviews conducted with 32 members and 2 group discussions of informal prayer groups in Accra, Ghana, the study explores interviewees’ conceptions of illnesses and the significance of the forest as a place of gathering in order to understand the pathways of care-seeking beliefs. There are several reasons why prayer group members in this study resort to the forest, such as finding a serene sacred space in a crowded city to confront the vicissitudes of life. Disease, for the prayer group members, has spiritual and physical origins, making them seek both biomedical and spiritual care. Interviewees were convinced that hospitals can help with physical diseases, but spiritual diseases require spiritual solutions, such as prayer. According to interviewees, one’s predicaments of ailment can change, by means of prayer, from a positive virus to a negative one, for example. There was a salient differentiation between treatment and healing. The interviewees shared in the general belief that doctors can treat certain conditions, but only God heals. While there is the need for public health practitioners to engage spiritual/religious leaders and adherents in behavioral change communication strategies to alter beliefs and cultural practices in the field of health care in Ghana, works aiming to support women and men’s health also need to pay attention to their religious beliefs.