Child dies from perfectly preventable condition because the parents thought it was a sin to go against God and seek medical attention.
The parents of a five-month-old boy who died from rickets after they neglected his care because of their religious beliefs were jailed yesterday.
Nkosiyapha Kunene, 36, and his wife Virginia, 32, who admitted the manslaughter of their son Ndingeko, received three years and two years, three months’ imprisonment respectively.
Ndingeko was born on January 1, 2012 at Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford, and died in June 14 that year.
He was found to have been suffering from rickets resulting from severe vitamin D deficiency.
From the article, it appears that the couple knew their son was unwell for two months but because they are strict Seventh Day Adventists, they did not seek medical assistance. The mother wished to seek medical treatment but the husband concluded it would be a sin, only God heals.
According to this document [PDF] it is rare for these followers to have such extreme views. Most accept modern medicine. An estimated 35% of Adventists practice vegetarianism and will voluntarily abstain from alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. The child in this case suffered due to the extreme vegan diet.
While I’m relieved to see jail time, the core beliefs that kill children must be stemmed. Religious freedom DOES NOT trump the rights of the child to adequate medical care.
More from the Guardian:
The judge said he had heard evidence that the hospital also played a part in failing properly to advise the couple and prescribe vitamin D supplements, adding that a serious case review had been taking place and was due to report shortly. It was, according to Singh, to be hoped that all necessary inquiries will have been made by various authorities to establish that everything was done to protect the boy’s life that could reasonably have been done.
The Seventh-Day Adventist church has issued a statement stressing that church members should seek and listen to health advice.