Archive for the ‘World Issues’ Category.

Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats

Sympathy and help for those in the Middle East/Asia

On behalf of the Board of Surgical Neurology International and its readers world wide, I offer our sympathy to the people in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and China in your recent struggles for individual liberty and freedom. We also understand that there are food shortages and high prices which makes everyone’s life difficult.

If there is anything we can do as a worldwide community of neurosurgeons. please ask in the comment section below this note. We will try our best to help you in any way we can.

James I. Ausman, MD, PhD
Editor in Chief

Help for our friends and colleagues in Japan

On behalf of the Board of Surgical Neurology International and its readers world wide, I offer our sincere concern for the people of Japan in its recent natural devastation. If there are specific things or people that are needed or that we can supply as a neurosurgical community, please use the comment section after this note to ask the world wide community for your needs. We will do our best to fulfill them.

James I. Ausman, MD, Phd

The consequences of witchcraft accusations in African hospitals

Witchcraft beliefs and witchcraft fears have proven to be one of the most persistent and enduring elements of the traditional African worldview. Its consequences can be profound. This post offers a short overview of these consequences, and why medical doctors in African countries should be aware of them.

Over the past few years, there has been an increase of witch-hunting and, subsequently, major violence to combat witchcraft in Africa. When sickness or death takes place in a family, someone else is usually blamed as being the cause of this misfortune. Often children are accused. These so called ‘Child-Witches’ face severe human rights abuses, including imprisonment, banishment, the destruction of one’s property, excessive fines, torture, and murder.

Once stigmatized as a witch there is virtually no way out of the cycle of abuse, as no one dares to intervene out of fear of being branded as a witch themselves.

In an environment where the common belief is that witchcraft is the major cause of disease and death, people will often refuse to go to a clinic when medical problems occur. Instead, fear will have the sick seek out a medicine man or prophet, who will identify the guilty witch as being the cause of the trouble. Receiving appropriate medical care is a secondary concern. As a consequence people will only go to the hospital in the last stages of their illnesses when the medicine man/prophet has failed to cure them. By this time the disease has progressed to a stage where conventional medicine might not have successful treatment options anymore.

Furthermore, the children that are accused of witchcraft endure major physical and psychological abuse and mistreatment. For instance they get chained and are being tortured to extract confessions or they are bathed in acid, burned or buried alive. Therefore, it is very important that doctors in Africa realize that when children arrive at the medical facility that appear to have been tortured, the accusation of witchcraft and its consequences might have been the underlying cause.

This topic is also important for neurosurgeons in these countries, as they will be involved in the treatment of trauma cases that might occur as a consequence of this phenomenon. From their position, they have the ability to support the well-being and future of these children; they can provide adequate information to the parents and family regarding the etiology of diseases, and explain that such misfortune is not related to witchcraft.

Hippocrates describes in “Of the Epidemics”: First Do No Harm. These Child-Witches did no harm, and they deserve a better future than life currently offers them.

Hananja Stael, MD

Across Outreach

Posts on World Issues

We are introducing a new category for our Posts section: World Issues. In this section we will offer our readers information on content that is not strictly medical, but that we consider to be of interest to our medical readers, and neurosurgeons / neuroscientists in particular.

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