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Mothers' management of childhood diseases in Yorubaland: the influence of cultural beliefs.

Authors
  • Feyisetan, B J
  • Asa, S
  • Ebigbola, J A
Type
Published Article
Journal
Health transition review : the cultural, social, and behavioural determinants of health
Publication Date
Oct 01, 1997
Volume
7
Issue
2
Pages
221–234
Identifiers
PMID: 10176379
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

This study examines data from a two-round survey undertaken in September 1991 and April-May 1992 in Nigeria to reveal the "Impact of Cultural Beliefs and Practices on Child Health among the Yoruba." Data were analyzed to determine 1) mothers' perceptions of the etiology of measles, diarrhea, and fever and the effect of these beliefs on which curative measures they suggested and 2) the persistence of the belief in "abiku" (special children who have come from the spirit world and can die at will unless certain rituals are performed) and how this belief can influence the way mothers manage childhood diseases. The data for this study, collected via formal interviews with 1559 respondents supplemented by in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, were submitted to simple cross tabulation and logistic regression analysis. It was found that 1) many of the mothers lack accurate information about the causes of the selected childhood diseases, especially measles; 2) many of the mothers nevertheless recommended modern curative methods; 3) the belief in abiku remains strong among these mothers; and 4) the curative measures adopted by a mother may depend upon whether the sick child is believed to an abiku. Over half of the mothers believed that an abiku required treatment from traditional healers and religious institutions irrespective of the nature of the illness. Thus, the probability of a child receiving modern curative treatment depends upon whether or not that child is perceived to be abiku. This study underscores the need to consider local beliefs and practices when implementing health policies.

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