INTRODUCTION: Culture includes the values of a people and affects nurturing of children as well as illness attribution. In spite of scientific discoveries, traditional practices that relate to health-seeking behaviors have persisted.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this work was to highlight the harmfulness and consequent negative effects of some of these practices on child health.
METHODS: A 1-year longitudinal study of children who attended the children's emergency and outpatient departments of a health institution in an urban area in Nigeria was carried out. Oral interviewing of the caregivers and physical inspection of the children was carried out for all patients. Treatment history, preferences for health care, and obvious traditional attempts at cure were evaluated.
RESULTS: There were 4484 hospital visits during which 2040 children were evaluated. The most common form of medical intervention at home before the visit was the use of herbal remedies (964 [47.25%]), scarifications that remained after blood-letting procedures (867 [42.5%]), and pastes applied on the anterior fontanel (24 [1.18%]). Other less common but more traumatic therapies were foot roasting (18 [0.88%]), heat treatment of extremities (6 [0.29%]), and application of special preparations orifices (0.88%).
CONCLUSIONS: The high use of traditional methods of treatment and the harmfulness of some of them calls for health providers in any environment to evaluate these practices to use the information obtained as tools for health education, thereby discouraging harmful treatments and encouraging the practice of useful ones.
Submitted by Assumpta Chapp–Jumbo
- Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Pediatrics