This is a story about deformed babies often abandoned or killed by their parents. Seth Kwame Boateng travelled to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi to speak to doctors about this state of affairs. Fiifi Koomson, Editor, Hotline Documentaries.
The cry of a woman in pain echoes through a ward of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. In there, a young woman endures the excruciating pain that comes with the birth of new life. It’s her first attempt. For the medical team attending to her, however, they’ve seen it all before.
After delivery Akua Mansah discovers her two children are joined together on the stomach; she delivered Siamese twins. According to doctors at the hospital, many often, parents of malformed babies either abandon or kill them.
However, Akua Mansah, the mother of the Siamese twins has decided to keep the children.
The Head of the Mother and Baby Unit at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital Dr. Gyikua Plange Rhule commends Akua Mansah and her husband for not abandoning their babies as has been the practice. According to her virtually all parents who deliver malformed babies don’t want to have anything to do with them.
“This one was born without anus so they had to bring the intestines here so that faeces come out of here…and this one was born without feet; you can see his feet are missing; a baby who is born with a tumor, it looks like a tail, a big tumor on his back,” she said as she rifled a pile of photos of malformed babies.
Doctors say many of the cases could be avoided if parents would ensure they take their folic acid prescriptions seriously.
“Some of them are caused by genetics, the parents happen to be carrying certain traits in their blood and so they have a baby who is born with some sort of inherited problem. Some of them come about because of some drugs some mothers take in early pregnancy. A lot of them come about because of just maternal malnutrition. I think these are the really tragic ones. Mothers who are malnourished are at risk of giving birth to babies who have some of these deformities,” Dr Plange Rhule said.
“Mothers who have diabetes in pregnancy are also at risk of giving birth to such babies…so it is a whole gamut of things.”
Most cultures tag deformed babies as spirit children who must not live.
In Sirigu in the Upper East region, they are killed almost immediately at the hands of townsfolk who slash them with machetes, and strike them with stones until there is no life in them.
Dr. Plange Rhule says they avoid putting pressure on parents to accept their malformed babies for good reason. Those who manage to escape death end up in orphanages.