Traditional health care Practices in Nigeria Introduction Nigeria is bounded in the North, East, and West by Niger, Chad and Cameroun, Benin, respectively. Her coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, the seventh most populous country in the world, and the most populous country in the world in which the majority of the population is black…
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Figures from the 2009 World Religious survey shows that 50.4% of Nigeria's population are Muslims, 48.2% are Christian (15% Protestant, 13.7% Catholic, and 19.6% other Christian), and followers of other religions are 1.4% (BBC News, 2007). These figures notwithstanding, it is evident that Nigerian, Muslims or Christians, have widespread belief in traditional African religious practices (BBC News, 2007). In fact, this belief system has a bearing on the way health and illness is perceived and treated in Nigeria. The richness and variety of Nigeria diet is well known. Different spices and herbs are used in the preparation of soups and sauces and this dominated by meat and/or fish. The use of spices and herbs in food is believed to prevent illnesses such as malaria. With a dysfunctional educational system, only 68% of the population is literate with the rate for men (75.7%) is higher than that for women (60.6%). A country ravaged by poverty and corruption, it has a very low gross domestic product (GDP); however, it is considered a lower middle income country by the World Bank (World Bank, 2011). The low literacy rate and the very low GDP affect people’s perception of illness and access to medical facilities, respectively. The Nigerian society, like the rest of Africa and in most developing countries has a male-centered and male dominated culture (U.S. Department of State, 2009). This affects the way women are treated and regarded. Most often sick women such as widows and those without children are accused of witchcraft and molested. Definition and Traditional beliefs of Health and Illness in Nigeria Nigerians regards health as multidimensional and not merely the absence of disease. Health is regarded as the attainment of physical, mental, emotional and social well being (WHO, 2005). This definition, which concord with the World Health Organization’s definition, is not a trademark of Nigerian philosophy of good health but the traditional belief of most ancient civilizations. Illness, on the other hand is disharmony either in the physical, mental, emotional and social state of an individual. Thus it is common among Nigerian to view immoral and erratic behavior as a disease. Furthermore, traditional medicine in Nigeria attributes illnesses to spiritual imbalance. Such imbalance could be self-inflicted or the handiwork of the enemies. Thus illnesses, according to traditional medicine in Nigeria, have their origin in the spiritual world Traditional Methods of Maintaining, Protecting and Restoration of Health in Nigeria The traditional method of maintaining, protecting and restoring health in Nigeria is linked with the African Traditional Religion (ATR). This method is the sum total of practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and/or mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises applied singularly or in combination to maintain well-being, as well as to diagnose, prevent and eliminate of physical, mental, or societal imbalance, and rely exclusively on practical experience and observation handed down from generation to generation, whether verbally or in writing (WHO, 2005). The knowledge and practices form part of ATR. As mentioned above, traditionally, Nigerians linked all
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Literatures purports that health care disparities is the result of inequalities in health care distribution, individual’s autonomy of choice or preference in lifestyle and beliefs, environmental and socio-economic discrimination, or some other factors of health status determinants affecting the minorities in the community.
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The conclusion states that cultural assessment is a very important tool to nurses because, from it, nurses will be able to reveal beliefs associated with a patient thus giving them a clue on how to conduct their treatment. It will also foster the trust that exists among the nurses and patients. It should become compulsory for nurses to give their patients cultural assessment practices.
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