Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5cfd469876-tkzrn Total loading time: 0.261 Render date: 2021-06-23T14:40:04.168Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true }

‘This sickness is not hospital sickness’: a qualitative study of the evil eye as a source of neonatal illness in Ghana

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 June 2019

April J. Bell
Affiliation:
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Zelda Arku
Affiliation:
University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana
Ashura Bakari
Affiliation:
Suntreso Government Hospital, Ghana Health Service, Kumasi, Ghana
Samuel A. Oppong
Affiliation:
School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
Jessica Youngblood
Affiliation:
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Richard M. Adanu
Affiliation:
School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
Cheryl A. Moyer
Affiliation:
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Previous research has described the evil eye as a source of illness for pregnant women and their newborns. This study sought to explore the perceptions of the evil eye among mothers whose newborns had experienced a life-threatening complication across three regions of Ghana. As part of a larger, quantitative study, trained research assistants identified pregnant and newly delivered women (and their newborns) who had survived a life-threatening complication at three tertiary care hospitals in southern Ghana to participate in open-ended, qualitative interviews about their experiences in March–August 2015. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim into English and analysis using the constant comparative method of theme generation. A total of 37 mothers were interviewed, 20 about neonatal illnesses and 17 about maternal illnesses. Six of the 20 mothers interviewed about their newborn’s illnesses spoke at length about the evil eye being a potential cause of newborn illness. The evil eye was described in a variety of terms, but commonalities included a person looking at a pregnant woman, her newborn baby, the baby’s clothes and even the mother’s food, causing harm, even unintentionally. Prevention required mothers covering themselves while pregnant and keeping the baby away from others until it was old enough to ward off the evil eye. Treatment required traditional medicine, yet some indicated that allopathic medicine could help. The evil eye appears to serve a social control mechanism, encouraging pregnant women to dress modestly, stay indoors as much as possible and behave appropriately. The evil eye is a pervasive, universally understood phenomenon across three regions of Ghana, even amongst a hospitalized population receiving allopathic health care for life-threatening complications of childbirth. Understanding the role of the evil eye in newborn illness attribution is important for clinicians, researchers and programmatic staff to effectively address barriers to care seeking.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2019 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

References

Adanikin, AI, Onwudiegwu, U and Akintayo, AA (2014) Reshaping maternal services in Nigeria: any need for spiritual care? BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth 14, 196.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Adusi-Poku, Y, Edusei, AK, Bonney, AA, Tagbor, H, Nakua, E and Otupiri, E (2012) Pregnant women and alcohol use in the Bosomtwe District of the Ashanti Region of Ghana. African Journal of Reproductive Health 16(1), 5560.Google ScholarPubMed
Alexander, A, Mustafa, A, Emil, S, Amekah, E, Engmann, C, Adanu, RM and Moyer, CA (2013) Social support during delivery in rural central Ghana: a mixed-methods study of women’s preferences for and against inclusion of a lay companion in the delivery room. Journal of Biosocial Science 46(5), 669685.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Amare, Y, Degefie, T and Mulligan, B (2012) Newborn care seeking practices in Central and Southern Ethiopia and implications for community based programming. Ethiopian Journal of Health Development 27(1), 37.Google Scholar
Dako-Gyeke, P, Aikins, M, Aryeetey, R, Mccough, L and Adongo, PB (2013) The influence of socio-cultural interpretations of pregnancy threats on health-seeking behavior among pregnant women in urban Accra, Ghana. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 13(211).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gebrehiwot, T, San Sebastian, M, Edin, K and Goicolea, I (2014) Health workers’ perceptions of facilitators of and barriers to institutional delivery in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth 14(137).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ghana Statistical Service, Ghana Health Service and DHS Program (2015) Ghana DHS, 2014. URL: http://dhsprogram.com/publications/publication-fr307-dhs-final-reports.cfm.Google Scholar
Koblinsky, M, Moyer, CA, Calvert, C, Campbell, J, Campbell, O, Feigl, A et al. (2016) A call to action for maternal health: accelerating progress in the next five years. The Lancet 388(10057), 23072320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lawn, JE, Blencowe, H, Oza, S, You, D, Lee, AC, Waiswa, P et al. (2014) Every newborn: progress, priorities, and potential beyond survival. The Lancet 384(9938), 189205.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lui, L, Oza, S, Hogan, D, Chu, Y, Perin, J, Zhu, J et al. (2016) Global, regional, and national causes of under-5 mortality in 2000–15: an updated systematic analysis with implications for the Sustainable Development Goals. The Lancet 388(10063), 30273035.Google Scholar
Matsuyama, A, Karama, M, Tanaka, J and Kaneko, S (2013) Perceptions of caregivers about health and nutritional problems and feeding practices of infants: a qualitative study on exclusive breastfeeding in Kwale, Kenya. BMC Public Health 13(525).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nyambura, R, Nyamache, T and Gechiko, B (2013) Evil eye: an African overview. Journal of Education and Social Science 2(1), 115121.Google Scholar
O’Kyere, E, Tawiah-Agyemang, C, Manu, A, Deganus, S, Kirkwood, B and Hill, Z (2010) Newborn care: the effect of a traditional illness, asram, in Ghana. Annals of Tropical Pediatrics 30(4), 321328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
O’Neill, SA, Clark, E and Grietens, KP (2017) How to protect your new-born from neonatal death: infant feeding and medical practices in Gambia. Women’s Studies International Forum 60, 136143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Oppong, SA, Bakari, A, Bell, AJ, Bockarie, Y, Adu, J, Turpin, CA et al. (2019) Incidence, causes and correlates of maternal near-miss morbidity: a multi-centre cross-sectional study. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.15578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Otoo, P, Habib, H and Ankomah, A (2015) Food prohibitions and other traditional practices in pregnancy: a qualitative study in Western Region of Ghana. Advances in Reproductive Science 3, 4149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Say, L, Souza, JP and Pattinson, RC (2009) Maternal near-miss: towards a standard tool for monitoring quality of maternal health care. Best Practices & Research Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology 23, 287296 CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
SEND-Ghana (2017) High Maternal Deaths Partly Blamed on Evil Eye. URL: http://www.sendwestafrica.org/index.php/media-link/latest-news/item/101-high-maternal-deaths-partly-blamed-on-evil-eye (accessed 15 August 2018).Google Scholar
Sina, OJ, Iyabo, JL and Ayodele, I (2014) Pregnancy care and maternal mortality in Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria. Standard Research Journal of Medicine and Medical Science 2(1), 4456.Google Scholar
Souza, JP, Cecatti, JG, Haddad, SM, Parpinelli, MA, Costa, ML, Katz, L et al. (2012) The WHO maternal near-miss approach and the maternal severity index model (MSI): tools for assessing the management of severe maternal morbidity. PLoS One 7(8), e44129.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Tong, A, Sainsbury, P and Craig, J (2007) Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): a 32-item checklist of interviews and focus groups. International Journal of Quality in Health Care 19(6), 349357.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wanjohi, M, Griffiths, P, Wekesah, F, Muriuki, P, Muhia, N, Musoke, RN, et al. (2017) Sociocultural factors influencing breastfeeding practices in two slums in Nairobi, Kenya. International Breastfeeding Journal 12(5), doi 10.1186/s13006-016-0092-7.Google Scholar
WHO (2014) Trends in Maternal Mortality 1990–2013. URL: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/112682/2/9789241507226_eng.pdf?ua=1%202014 (accessed 29 September 2017).Google Scholar
WHO (2015) Global Health Observatory Data. Maternal Mortality. URL: http://www.who.int/gho/maternal_health/mortality/maternal_mortality_text/en/ (accessed 15 August 2018).Google Scholar
WHO (2016) Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990-–2015. URL: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/194254/1/9789241565141_eng.pdf (accessed 15 August 2018).Google Scholar
3
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

‘This sickness is not hospital sickness’: a qualitative study of the evil eye as a source of neonatal illness in Ghana
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

‘This sickness is not hospital sickness’: a qualitative study of the evil eye as a source of neonatal illness in Ghana
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

‘This sickness is not hospital sickness’: a qualitative study of the evil eye as a source of neonatal illness in Ghana
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *