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#EMMAseries: COMMON HARMFUL TRADITIONAL PRACTICES IN RELATION TO DISEASES

DISEASES – CAUSES AND TREATMENT

BY DR GBEMISOLA BOYEDE

1. Application of SCARIFICATIONS marks for treatment of conditions like constipation, abdominal swelling or for beauty or identification. The latter is actually a criminal offence in the Child Rights Act. The scarifications can lead to diseases like Tetanus, transmission of HIV

2. Teething – use of teething Powder/syrups. I hope we all still remember the ‘My Pikin’ saga. Teething is NOT a disease; it is part of normal development. Teething does not cause diarrhea.

3. Diarrhea – treating diarrhea with the following drugs flagyl, tetracycline, diastop, thalazole etc are very dangerous practices indeed. Also withholding food and drink in children with diarrhea so as to stop the stooling is very very dangerous and can lead to death if prolonged.

4. Convulsion – putting wood, spoon, knife etc in the mouth of a convulsing child is a dangerous practice that can damage the teeth or lips. Also putting the hands/feet of convulsing children in fire does not stop convulsion but will only give the child severe burns with attendant infections/chronic disability/deaths. In fact most times for such children what kills them is the complication of the ‘convulsion treatment’ by people instead of the convulsion itself. Using onions, peppers, methylated spirit is also very dangerous.

5. Use of herbal concoctions. All drugs are poisons; it is the dose that differentiates what is beneficial from what is dangerous. Though some herbal drugs may be good but the fact that many lack dosages is a major challenge. Also some in addition to the good part contain other toxins which can damage major organs like liver, kidneys etc. some from our experience has been associated with terrible complications eg. SEVEN KEYS used by mothers for Measles/Rashes tend to cause a serious condition known as Steven-Johnson Syndrome. So I don’t recommend use of herbal concoction in children.

6. Self-medication – Mums are the first doctors. We recognize you and salute you but please don’t overdo it. There are drugs you are allowed to use without prescription but most need a doctor’s prescription. A good rule to work with is any drug that is advertised on TV/Radio can be used without prescription, drugs like paracetamol, antimalarials, cough mixtures, multivitamins, and worm expellers.Antibiotics are not to be used without prescription and definitely not routine as I know mums who treat their kids with antimalarials and antibiotics with the slightest of complaints. PLEASE desist from this as it can lead to antibiotic resistance and also some drugs have dangerous side effects.

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