Uses of crude oil as traditional medicine: a survey of mothers in a rural clinic in South-south Nigeria
Citation: Dienye PO, Akani AB, Itimi K. Uses of crude oil as traditional medicine: a survey of mothers in a rural clinic in South-south Nigeria. Rural and Remote Health 12: 1858. (Online) 2012. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au
Introduction: Crude oil is used as traditional medicine among rural dwellers in South-south Nigeria. Although complications have been reported following its use, this rural populace holds tenaciously to an erroneous belief in its efficacy in treating many ailments. Despite this widespread use there are no known studies from the region on the use of crude oil in this way. This study surveyed the use of crude oil by rural mothers with the objectives of determining the proportion of mothers who use crude oil as traditional medicine, the reasons for its use, the diseases believed to be cured by it, and to establish the identity of those who administer crude oil.Key words: crude oil, South-south Nigeria, traditional medicine.
Method: This cross-sectional study was conducted in Bethesda Clinic Ngo in South- south Nigeria in the period January–December 2009.
Results: Of 420 mothers recruited, 134 (31.9%) used crude oil as medication. Their ages ranged from 19 to 47 years with a mean of 33.72 ± 9.45 years. Mothers older than 30 years were significantly more likely to use crude oil than those younger than 30 years (χ2 = 4.56, p = 0.033, RR = 0.737, CI = 0.548-0.990). There was no statistically significant association between marital status and the use of crude oil as traditional medicine (χ2 = 1.24, p = 0.265, RR= 0.793, CI = 0.545-1.255). Although the majority of participants (78.86%) had a minimum of primary education level (educated group), the uneducated participants were significantly more likely to use crude oil (χ2 = 62. 67, p < 0.001, RR = 2.936, CI = 2.243-3.776). The proportion of mothers using crude oil was significantly higher among those whose occupation was fishing (χ2 = 10.98, p = 0.001, RR = 1.629, CI = 1.198-2.232). The most common use of crude oil was for febrile convulsions (82.1%). The reasons for using crude oil were that crude oil was inexpensive (66.4%) and that available hospitals were costly and/or inefficient (61.9%). The most common administrators of crude oil were neighbours (73.2%).
Conclusion: A high proportion of mothers attending Bethesda Clinic Ngo use crude oil on their children as a traditional medicine, and this is because of their belief in its effectiveness, and its availability and affordability. The use of this product is encouraged the country’s costly and inefficient health system. Neighbours play a large role in the administration of crude oil and this is consistent with the local culture.
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