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October 2022

Child Care Health Dev. 1988 Jan-Feb; 14(1): 51-8.

Partnership with nursing mothers: an interim strategy for combating childhood enteric diseases in Nigeria.

Elegbe IA, Juba A.

Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

Five hundred and fifteen homes of nursing mothers in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, who had earlier brought their children for treatment of diarrhoeal diseases at the IUTHC infant child welfare clinics were visited between January 1982 and June 1984. The mothers' perceptions as to causes, prevention and control of childhood enteritis were elicited: 49.7% of the mothers attributed the cause of the disease to evil spirits; and 9.5% believed enteritis in children to be due to contamination of children's feeds. Modern medicine was perceived to be the ideal method for treating this disease by only 7.4% of the mothers, while 88.8% opted for any of the traditional methods. In order to reduce the devasting effects of enteric diseases among children born to mothers in tropical countries of Africa and Asia, it is imperative that all health workers understand the cultural and social perceptions of their clients towards the disease in question. Illiteracy, and unsanitary and unhygienic environmental conditions were found to be the main factors precipitating enteritis. Implications and strategies for minimizing diarrhoea and other childhood enteric diseases are discussed in the text.

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