Seriously ill patients suffering from conditions including cancer and HIV are being encouraged by some Evangelical Christian churches to depend on prayers rather than pills.
Worshippers in London, Manchester and Glasgow have stopped taking life-saving drugs after being persuaded about the healing powers of God, according to research by the African Health Policy Network (AHPN).
A BBC London investigation yesterday revealed that at least three women with HIV have died after they stopped taking medication on the advice of their pastors.
Francis Kaikumba, chief executive of AHPN, said a family member committed suicide last year after being convinced by a church he did not suffer from a mental health problem. The man's mental health deteriorated after he stopped taking his medicine after taking guidance from the pastor.
Mr Kaikumba said: "This is a national concern... It is about spiritual healing being the preferred option for every condition and in some cases people being told that medication will damage the affects of the prayers. We have found very vulnerable people in London, Glasgow and Manchester being offered one-stop solutions to very complex issues such as diabetes, TB [Tuberculosis], cancer, as well as housing and immigration problems. This is not just a trend in the UK, it is happening on a much wider scale in Africa."