Sarah Hawi Ngere , Victor Akelo , Ken Ondeng'e , Renee Ridzon , Peter Otieno , Maryanne Nyanjom , Richard Omore , Beth A Tippett Barr
, Ngere SH, Akelo V, Ondeng'e K, Ridzon R, Otieno P, Nyanjom M, Omore R, Barr BAT. Traditional Medicine Beliefs and Practices among Caregivers of Children under Five Years-The Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS), Western Kenya: A qualitative study. PLoS One. 2022 Nov 2;17(11):e0276735. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0276735. PMID: 36322582; PMCID: PMC9629611
Background: Approximately 80% of the population residing in sub-Saharan Africa relies on Traditional Medicine (TM). However, literature on factors motivating the use of TM for children under the age of five in these settings is limited. Such information can guide policy formulation for integration of TM into mainstream health care services. This study aimed to describe the motivation on use of TM among caregivers of children residing in rural and urban communities in western Kenya.
Methods: The socio-behavioral sciences (SBS) arm of the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance (CHAMPS) program in western Kenya, conducted a cross-sectional qualitative study in Manyatta-an urban informal settlement located in Kisumu town and Karemo-a rural setting in Siaya County. We performed 29 in-depth interviews, 5 focus group discussions and 11 semi-structured interviews with community representatives (n = 53), health workers (n = 17), and community leaders (n = 18). All the participants were purposively sampled. We performed thematic analysis using both inductive and deductive approaches. Data management was completed on Nvivo 11.0 software (QSR International, Melbourne, Australia).
Results: Our findings reveal that some caregivers prefer TM to treat some childhood diseases. Use of TM was informed by illness beliefs about etiology of disease. We observed an appreciation from the study participants that malaria can effectively be treated by Conventional Medicine (CM) while TM was preferred to treat measles and diseases believed to be associated with supernatural etiology such as witchcraft, evil spirit or breaching cultural taboos. TM was also used in instances where CM failed to provide a diagnosis or when CM was 'slow'. TM in such cases was used as a last resort.
Conclusion: We observed varied beliefs that motivate caregivers' choice of TM use among children in western Kenya. It is therefore crucial to consider perceptions and socio-cultural beliefs about illnesses when formulating interventions that are geared towards child health.