Why Are Traditional Birth Attendants Becoming More Popular?

Editorial Team

In 2012, Dr. Ayede a Paediatrician with The University College , Hospital, Ibadan reported that one of the major factors responsible for high maternal and neonatal deaths in Nigeria and other developing countries is the use of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs). Even with all the negative reports in 2017, there are still a lot of cases of pregnant women preferring to use TBAs rather than go to an hospital for their delivery.

TBAs are usually local women with little formal education, while doing his research Dr. Ayede discovered that  a very high proportion of the TBAs had their initial training under another TBA while a few did not have any training.

Odimegwu Onwumere reported that as a result of the apparent failed healthcare system, most women have resorted to traditional delivery homes with the attending dangers.

While conducting her research Odimegwu met Mrs. Joy Ebi, 28, a trader at the Oyigbo Main-market in Rivers State, patronizes native delivery homes whenever she’s pregnant. Her three children were delivered in the homes. She would also patronize the native home as she’s pregnant for the next baby.

This is in spite of advice from neighbours and relatives to the contrary. However, Ebi seems relaxed in the native delivery homes. She gives her reasons that she feels relaxed, accommodated and loved by the attendants unlike those in the hospitals.

According to Odimegwu, pregnant women who patronise government hospitals lament of high costs of delivery in government hospitals. Pregnant women are complaining of high cost of antenatal and delivery services.

“Some are asked to pay N12,500 for registration while their husbands should donate blood, or pay N10, 000 for a pint of blood. “This is excluding the money for your drugs and other laboratory tests. If you undergo CS, it will amount to over N200, 000. That’s too much for most of us.”

While some complain that they cannot afford to go to the hospital because of the financial expenses, others say the hospitals are too far from their house. Even though they have been going for antenatal at hospital they deliver with TBAs because they are usually at hand when they go into labour.

Some women use TBAs because they trust them and believe they care about their well being when compared to the medical practitioners.  According to Youth Hub Africa, while some believe that TBAs bridge the gaps in supporting women with deliveries especially in communities where the closest health center is many miles away.

Deliveries with TBA’s have been tainted with use of unsterilized tools, unskilled personnel, poor environmental conditions, and contributing to high maternal and infant mortality and Mother to child transmission (MTCT) of HIV rates.

Many of these TBAs inherit the job from their mothers or are simply respected older members of the community. They consider themselves to be like private health practitioners, but can they spot complications or cope with problems without the necessary facilities unlike hospitals? With all the disadvantages of using a TBA is it worth the risk? Would you advise anyone to use a TBA?




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