Fever, pile major reason women use traditional medicine in Nigeria — Study

Experts have found that usage of traditional medicines varies across ethnicities in Nigeria, with the most common reasons for its usage among adult women being fever (40 per cent) and Jedi-jedi/pile (29per cent).

In a new study, researchers found a high rate of traditional medicine usage (81.6 per cent) for multiple reasons among women living in a major urban centre in Nigeria, with the Igbo and Hausa ethnic groups less likely to use traditional medicine than their Yoruba counterparts.

The Igbo ethnic group was four times less likely to use traditional medicine than the Yoruba ethnic group while those belonging to the Hausa ethnic group were about half as likely to use traditional medicine as the Yoruba group.

The study, which suggests that affordability may not be the major factor in women’s decision to use traditional medicines said educated women were less likely than their non-educated counterparts to have used traditional medicine, with the biggest effect seen in women with secondary education.

The study entitled ‘Traditional medicine usage among adult women in Ibadan, Nigeria: a cross-sectional study’ published in the March edition of BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapy.  It aimed to identify the prevalence of and determinants of traditional medicine use among healthy adult women.

It had involved 748 adult women who were recruited from the communities in the city of Ibadan from 2013 to 2015. These were healthy controls for the Nigerian Breast Cancer Study (NBCS), a case-control study of breast cancer.

The Yoruba participants were mainly recruited from the Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State, where recruitment was done by house visits. The Hausa participants were recruited from communities in Sabo. The Igbo and other ethnic group participants were recruited from Aleshiloye market, a major market in Ibadan.

A structured questionnaire was created to collect data on rates of traditional medicine use and demographic factors such as age, education, ethnicity, and occupation.

Six hundred women (81.6 per cent) reported having taken traditional medicine and 135 (18.4 per cent) reported not having ever taken traditional medicine. The reasons for taking traditional medicine were varied, with the most commonly reported reasons being fever (40 per cent) and Jedi-jedi/pile.

Of those who took traditional medicine, only a minority reported taking it every day (14.3 per cent). Rather, the most frequently reported frequency of use was less than once a week (36.5 per cent), with 31.1 per cent of those women taking traditional medicine less than once a week.

Most strikingly, ethnicity, education and weight change remained significant predictors for traditional medicine use. There was also a positive relationship between traditional medicine use and weight loss, with women who reported significant weight loss over the past year significantly more likely to use traditional medicine than those whose weight had not changed, and even more so than those who had gained weight.

They declared, “As Ibadan, the site of this study, is a majority Yoruba city, individuals from other ethnic groups are most likely immigrants from other areas. This precludes us from generalizing our conclusions to the general Hausa or Ibo populations, as there may be differences between minorities who immigrated to Ibadan and those who stayed in their hometown.

“In addition, when income is included in the regression model, the significance of ethnicity decreases and suggests that income differences among the ethnicities may account for some of the differences in traditional medicine usage. However, it is important to note that the effect of ethnicity remained significant even after controlling for factors such as education, income, and occupation.”

They, however, declared since it is possible that beliefs towards health and illness differ among the ethnic groups, thus affecting attitudes and usage of traditional medicine, further studies are needed to investigate the reasons behind these differences.



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