Doctors in Malawi say ‘bloodsucking’ claims purely mass hysteria caused by ‘delusional’ individuals

The Society of Medical Doctors (SMD) has said   it has gathered no evidence from the health facilities in the ‘vampirism’ hotspots  that anyone has adequate clinical evidence to support claims by some individuals in different parts of the southern region of the country that they encountered blood suckers.

Society of Medical Doctors` press briefing on Blood suckers allegation at Central Office of Information in Lilongwe.-Photo by Abel Ikiloni, Mana
Amos Nyaka, the society’s president, is commending health workers for continuing to serve communities despite the risk to their lives and property.-Photo by Aabel Ikiloni, Mana

The society’s president Dr Amos Salimanda Nyaka told a news conference that that there is ‘no evidence’ the vampires are real, and instead blamed the situation on ‘Shared Delusion Disorder’.

He said: ‘This is when a dominant individual who is deluded and can have those following him believe and internalize his delusions. Shared delusion is usually confined to a locality.

“In view of the magnitude of the problem in that it is affecting many districts and the readiness of many Malawians to internalize these beliefs this presentation would constitute that of Mass Hysteria.”

The society has since advised the media and the public to be cautious of what they post on social media and mainstream media outlests.

“There has been irresponsible sensationalisation of rumours of blood sucking vampires. This has the potency of perpetuating fear and anxiety in the population, with the exponential negative effects we have seen so far,” Nyaka said.

The society says the rumours have negatively affected the deliverance of health services. It further says that the health sector’s ability to offer the routine community health services in the affected areas has slowed down, the provision of maternal, neonatal, and child health services amongst many other services have dwindled.

Nyaka said the Doctors Society is disturbed by the reports that assailants have attacked medics for carrying stethoscopes, or robbed them and smashed their vehicles in what it described as an escalation of thuggery and mass hysteria.

“Some ambulances have also been attacked whilst being used to ferry patients to and or from hospital. This is despicable and we condemn all these and all similar acts of barbarism on innocent people unreservedly and in the strongest language possible,” he said, adding that this is happening in pursuit of the non-existent suckers.
He said that no health worker and no one else can  suck blood with a stethoscope or with a power bank.

According to doctors,  the rumours have also affected the work of Malawi Blood Transfusion.

“With the malaria season around the corner, it is disaster in the making!”

The society has since challenged all who may have a belief that their blood has been sucked to go to a hospital for proper assessment and help.

President Peter Mutharika last week vowed to investigate the killings and the vampire rumours. He asked any would-be “vampire hunters” to turn suspected vampires in to the police, rather than killing them.

Mutharika urged the nation to concentrate on developing the country than dwelling on the blood sucker issue maintaining that so far there is no evidence of any bloodsuckers in Malawi.

Police say they have made 149 arrests following deadly mob attacks on people suspected of being “vampires.” At least nine people have been killed in attacks following the blood sucker rumors in Malawi.

Malawi is one of the world’s poorest nations, and belief in witchcraft is widespread.

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Elder Sage I
Elder Sage I
4 years ago

That presser should be broadcast everyday at different times…. let those who have ears hear for themselves from real professionals in the area. Am sue there were several electronic media houses there.
Print media should reserve some space – like an advertorial – for this stuff.

Otherwise this nation called Malawi is on the brink of chaos, madness, brutality and savagery!

4 years ago

Good presentation of facts Doc.

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