African Journal of
Medical and Health Sciences

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Med. Health Sci.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2384-5589
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJMHS
  • Start Year: 2017
  • Published Articles: 78

Full Length Research Paper

Orthodox and unorthodox practices by traditional birth attendants’ in Nsukka area of Enugu State, Southeast Nigeria

George Onyemaechi Ugwu
  • George Onyemaechi Ugwu
  • College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar
Ed Nwobodo
  • Ed Nwobodo
  • Department of Human physiology, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar
Godwin Uchenna Ezema
  • Godwin Uchenna Ezema
  • Enugu State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar
Cosmos Onah
  • Cosmos Onah
  • Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar
Odidika Ugochukwu Umeora
  • Odidika Ugochukwu Umeora
  • Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital Abakaliki Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 13 August 2020
  •  Accepted: 15 January 2021
  •  Published: 28 February 2021


Unskilled Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) is prevalent in rural Nigeria due to communal culture and traditions, their compassionate attitude, and non-availability of appropriate health facilities within the communities. Yet, there is no clear framework defining their roles, locations and practices. This study aimed to identify the pattern and practices of TBA in Nsukka area of Enugu State, and evaluate their roles in rural maternity services in Enugu state of Nigeria. This was a mixed method cross sectional study involving a questionnaire-based survey and Focus group discussions (FGD). Seventy-eight TBAs, were recruited for this study. Structured interviewer-administered questionnaire was used to collect quantitative data and a semi-structured discussion guide was used for the FGD – one FGD for each development center. SPSS version 25 was used for statistical analysis. Records of FGD sessions were transcribed, condensed into themes, and analyzed. A total of 78 TBAs were interviewed, 26 from each of the three development areas. Majority (66.0%) completed primary education while 9.0% did not have any formal education. Almost two-third (65.4%) uses exclusively traditional methods in their practice, whereas 34.5% combined orthodox method. Three focused group discussions showed almost all the TBAs in the study could neither identify different complications and when to refer nor signs separating different stages of labour. Poorly educated TBA in the Nsukka area of Enugu State combines orthodox medicine with herbs and traditional healing methods. Their appreciation and management of danger pregnancy signs and referral system are lacking.

Key words: Traditional birth attendants, healthcare, Nsukka, informal health, Labor.