HARMFUL TRADITIONAL HEALTH PRACTICES: A CROSS – SECTIONAL SURVEY AMONG UNDER-FIVE CHILDREN IN DEMBIA DISTRICT, NORTH-WEST ETHIOPIA
Keywords:harmful traditional health practices, under 5 children, HIV/AIDS, prevalence rate and associated factors, Dembia district
Background: Harmful Traditional Health Practices such as, female genital mutilation, uvulectomy, tonsillectomy and milk teeth extraction are widely practiced in Ethiopia. These malpractices are associated with risks like massive bleeding, infection, transmission of many diseases including HIV/AIDS. There is evidence that the type and degree of malpractices vary from one place to the other in the country requiring the need for the undertaking of area-specific researches.
Objectives: To determine the prevalence rates and associated risk factors of harmful traditional health practices among under- 5 children of Dembia district, north Gondar zone.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Dembia district, northwest Ethiopia which included both urban and rural settings. Data were collected from 1214 households which consisted of 1747 under five children using a pre-tested questionnaire.
Results : Uvulectomy, giving butter to a newborn baby as the first feed, and milk teeth extraction were the most dominant malpractices reported by the respondents. Among the various socio-demographic characteristics considered, the level of education attained by the mother, place of residence and religion were found to be significantly and independently associated with the practice of the most prevalent harmful traditions that the under 5 children had undergone. As the level of educational status of the mother increased, there appeared a corresponding decrease in the practice of harmful traditional health practices among under 5 children. Children below five years of age living in rural areas were about 1.8 times more likely to be exposed to the risk of harmful traditional health practices compared to those residing in towns (AOR = 1.8; 95% CI: 1.02, 3.16). The Orthodox Christians were also observed to be about twice more likely to undergo the traditional malpractices than the Muslims of the district. The practice of female genital mutilation was observed only among the minority groups of the district.
Conclusions: The high prevalence rates of harmful traditional health practices coupled with the use of unsterilized tools calls for an appropriate measure. Among others, the banning of the most harmful traditional health practice (female genital mutilation) is recommended.