5:20am , Wednesday 20th January 2021

Fake Diagnosis

16 June 2019

Thousands of desperate Mauritanian families respond to advertisements put out by Sharia Ruqia centers promising they can cure diseases that doctors cannot by decoding magic and warding off the evil eye. The ministries of Health and of Islamic Affairs hesitate to monitor these claims or the centers despite a 1983 law that criminalizes sorcery because of the thin cover of religion over them

Dignitaries deprive patients of the opportunity to be treated

Poverty did not prevent Fatima from finding the 11,000 Mauritanian rupees (about US$300) she needed to pay an Islamic (Sharia) Ruqia center owner to treat her daughter’s chronic headache .

The owner told her young Al-Mumana Mahmoud suffered from “being possessed by jinn,” which he could cure with a month of treatment.

But Al-Mumana got worse after that expensive month of treatment. Doctors at Nouakchott Friendship Hospital diagnosed her condition later, last March, as hydrocephalus, an accumulation of water in the head that triggers central nervous system malfunctions.

“During the course of a month, I visited the Sharia Ruqia center four times, hoping to heal my child, but to no avail,” Fatima said. “The only things that have changed is that I lost my money – which I paid to the owner of the center over two installments – and my child’s condition got worse.”

the child’s medical report

The owner of the Prophet’s Followers or Ahbab Al-Rasul center read the Qur’an to the girl while caressing her body and head. Fatima said he also supplied her some herbs and water bottles imprinted with verses against sorcery from the Qur’an.

Othman Hassan*, a surgeon at Al-Shifa Hospital who has seen Al-Mumana, said she actually needed an operation to drain water from her head. He warned that lack of treatment could complicate surgery and reduce chances of its success.


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