Impact of Belief Systems on the Management of Child Malnutrition: The Case of Talensis of Northern Ghana

Christopher S Boatbil, Chris Bambey Guure, Azerikatoa D. Ayoung

Abstract


Child malnutrition is a global public health problem which efforts are being made to minimize or eradicate. Though many studies have been conducted to explore its incidence, patterns and causes, the issue of ‘Local Beliefs’ remain poorly understood in most communities. The purpose of this study is to understand local awareness of malnutrition, types of beliefs regarding its causes, specific traditional treatments and willingness to treat child malnutrition traditionally. The study largely depended on qualitative approaches such as focus group discussions and in-depth interviews complemented by a minimal use of quantitative tools such as questionnaires, to gather data from 120 household members. Sampling methods included Clustering, simple random and lottery methods. Whilst percentages, pie charts and bar graphs were used to analyze quantitative data, an interpretative approach was employed for qualitative data. Although Local awareness of child malnutrition was high, yet it was not seen as a serious health burden. The beliefs about the causes of child malnutrition included a child offending a ‘Tobig god’ by eating dry flour, eating meat sacrificed to ‘Tobig god’, sucking of ‘bitter breast milk’, eating chicken though he/she prohibits it, and ‘Sama’(living things blocking breast milk). Treatments included consulting soothsayers to determine modes of pacification to offended gods, drinking water with fowl droppings in it and smearing grinded guinea corn malt on mothers’ breasts. The study also showed that majority of respondents preferred to treat child malnutrition traditionally. 


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5296/jfs.v3i1.6048

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