Beliefs and Practices of Traditional Medicine towards Women’s Reproductive Healthcare: Evidences from Wolaytta Zone, Ethiopia

Padmanabhan Murugan, Paulos Yared


Traditional medicine, a widely used health system, whose use and importance is fast increasing in many parts of the world. In the developing world cultural acceptance and local pharmacopoeias are the determinant factors making people to have strong beliefs towards traditional medicine and to use it extensively for their various healthcare needs. This study focuses on the beliefs and practices of traditional medicine towards women’s reproductive healthcare issues. Although reproductive health problems include many, the main focus of this study is towards women’s reproductive health issues, specifically, on abortion services, birth control/spacing and STDs that mostly require an intervention of a practitioner. The study was conducted in six kebeles of Damot Woydie woreda of Wolaytta zone of Ethiopia. Employing a cross-sectional qualitative research approach data were gathered using in-depth interviews, key-informant interviews and focus group discussions from both married and unmarried women of reproductive age, traditional medical practitioners who are dealing with diagnosing and treating women’s aforesaid reproductive health problems and also health extension workers of the study areas. The study findings reveal that rural women in the study areas have strong beliefs towards traditional medicine as well as the traditional medicine practitioners. People practice traditional medicine because it has stood the test of time, and has ‘won over’ the trust of the rural people. The knowledge of traditional medicines of the practitioners is said to be passed from generation to generation orally, usually from parents to a favorite child i.e., mother to a girl child. The practitioners prepare traditional medicines squeezing or powdering various herbs, leaves and seeds of plants and trees for treating various reproductive health problems of women. Rural women in the study areas do not undermine modern medicine; they believe that modern medicine could deal successfully with various reproductive health problems (except Wulawushshiyaa [Hepatitis B]). Women in the study areas have all the faiths in the practice of traditional medicine and also the services rendered by the traditional medicine practitioners in dealing with their reproductive health problems; this shows the pivotal role played by traditional medicine and also the practitioners in dealing with women’s reproductive health problems.


Abortion; Reproductive Health; Traditional Medicine

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