Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza has called for close collaboration between medical practitioners and the clergy in the delivery of healthcare.
A jovial President Nkurunziza told delegates to the 6th EAC Health and Scientific Conference being held in Bujumbura, Burundi that human beings and other creatures do not owe their life and survival to doctors, healers or any other health-related sciences but to God.
President Nkurunziza said the society should consider doctors, healers and medical researchers as God’s assistants who in return should not take their responsibilities for granted.
“Whoever lands a helping hand to God, in any healthcare-related activity, should be proud of it on the one hand and, on the other hand, they should refrain from any behaviour or attitude likely to affect life in a negative way,” said Nkurunziza.
President Nkurunziza said that in the beginning, faith and healing were integrated, adding that this was no longer the case today.
“Today, medical science limits itself to what is physical, observable and replicable. In this process, our concept of the person has become fragmented. Diseases of the body are the concern of medicine, problems of the mind are the realm of psychology, while spiritual problems are relegated to pastors and priest,” he said.
The President said the onus was on leaders and clerics to bring faith and the practice of medicine back together as an integrated whole.
“To do this, we must first recognise the wholeness of the person we seek to heal; the combination of body, spirit, emotions and other phenomena,” he said, adding that this could be done in three major ways.
“First, healthcare professionals must understand who the whole person is, and how thoughts, feelings, emotions and desires affect our total health and healing. Secondly, we need to learn how to refer sick persons to pastoral caregivers and how to work together as a team. Thirdly, medical and pastoral leaders need to find ways to develop this team approach in hospitals, clinics and private practice
situations. We must adopt a holistic approach; trying to involve the whole community in the many aspects of this long healing journey.”
He noted that the integrated medico-pastoral healing approach to healing has proven successful in Burundi and other countries.
“There are definite limits of medical science. Unfortunately, not all human conditions and afflictions can be adequately diagnosed even after exhaustive tests and studies. Medical providers live with that reality every day and so do our patients,” said Nkurunziza.
“When specialists and diagnostic studies have not revealed a cause to your symptoms, it does not mean you do not have a problem. It just means that no one has been able to find thus far except God who knows everything. We all know of many cases where doctors give up on their patients. The latter would walk the streets in search of a solution but in vain. Once all ways and means have proven inadequate, an invisible hand works a miracle. That invisible hand is God.”
President Nkurunziza said there had been instances where death certificates were written, people were taken to mortuaries or cemeteries, but manage to return to life, leaving doctors speechless and onlookers astounded.
He noted that many doctors only reconsider their spiritual beliefs when they fall sick with serious diseases.
“Doctors should not wait for the above situation to arise. They should always seek advice, guidance and inspiration from God if they want to be more efficient and successful in the long run,” he said, adding that even death was under God’s control.
“The number of days that we will live on this earth is ordained by God, not by medical science. It is God who has the power to shorten or prolong it. Read Isaiah 38:5 or Job 14:5 for better understanding. “Death, of course, is not a failure. Death is normal. Death may be the enemy, but it is also the natural order of things. There is nothing we can do about it. We have to do with it.”
He quoted the Apostle Paul to the effect that God’s plan was “…to bring all things together.
“We can play a crucial part in this by allowing God to work through healthcare professionals and leaders to reunite medicine and faith because, as God told Moses, ‘I am the Lord who heals you.’ ”