Utilization of Alternative Medical Services In An Urban Centre Of North Central Nigeria
Background: The use of alternative therapy is becoming more popular in the recent times especially due to the increasing cost, distrust and limitations of modern western medical care. There is a universal trend toward naturalness and herbal medicine is now being modernized and being accepted by people who would not have used them. This community based study seeks to assess the prevalence, pattern, behaviour and determinants of Alternative Therapy (AT) use.
Methods: It was a cross-sectional descriptive survey among adults in the Ilorin city of Nigeria. Participants were selected by multistage sampling and information obtained by the use of semi-structured questionnaire.
Results: Total prevalence of AT use was 67.7% while the prevalence of the use of both indigenous and foreign AT use was 44.8% and 30.4% respectively. Among indigenous AT users, 87.5% will use both conventional and modernized type, while 12.5% will use only the modernized type. More than 10% were new users of AT. Respondents use AT for promotive, preventive and curative purposes. Only 3.5% were considered as safe users according to 12-point items. The male respondents and the never married ones practice a safer use of alternative therapy (p<0.05). Similarly, the respondents with higher educational status also have a safer practice of AT use (p<0.05).
Conclusion: There is high prevalence of unsafe AT use in Ilorin. The regulation of advertisement and sales of harmful herbal medicines should be intensified by NAFDAC and other related agencies. Further research into the safe and effective integration of AT into modern healthcare practice in Nigeria is also recommended.
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