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January 2022

Public Health Rep. 1984 Jan-Feb; 99(1): 93-8.

Nigerians' use of native and Western medicine for the same illness.

Nnadi EE, Kabat HF.

The impact of dual systems of health care on those who use them is not well understood. A study was undertaken in Nigeria to study this impact. A questionnaire about use of dual health care systems was prepared and tested and then administered to a study sample. This sample included representatives of the Hausa, Ibo, and Yoruba tribes, urban and rural residents, and Christians, Muslims, and traditional worshippers. Among 680 respondents, more of the Muslims than the other religious groups had used both Western and native medical care systems for the same illness, and the relationship between such dual use and religious preference was found to be significant. Also, almost three-fourths of the respondents who had used both native and Western medicine for the same illness had done so more than once. Among respondents who had used both for the same illness many times, there were almost twice as many males as females. Among the Ibos, 81.9 percent had used both systems more than once, compared with 77.2 percent of the Yorubas and 62.2 percent of the Hausas. The existence of pluralistic medicine is fairly common in both developing and developed countries. However, switching back and forth from native to Western medicine makes determinations of the relative efficacy of cures difficult. Also, simultaneous use of drugs from both native and Western health care providers has the potential of harming or even killing the patient.


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