Dept. of Sociology/Anthropology
University of Uyo
Dept. of Economics
University of Port Harcourt
This study examines local perceptions of the socio-cultural beliefs surrounding obstetric complications in a rural community of Nigeria, with a view to broadening existing knowledge as well as informing and enriching action to address maternal reproductive health problems among rural women. Data for the study were collected through in-depth personal interviews with 476 respondents, key informant interviews and FGDs with 24 participants. The respondents were recruited through a multi-stage sampling technique. Insights emerging from the study reveal that local health beliefs and taxonomies locate the key determinants of maternal reproductive health problems in the socio-cultural context in which they live, including such domains as religion/cosmology; family/kinship; socio-economic organization and gender relations. The methods adopted in the management of maternal reproductive health problems also reflect the people’s holistic view of the nature and etiology of these problems. Some of these methods are beneficial and could be harnessed in the pursuit of health sustainability for women. The paper recommends that benign indigenous beliefs and concepts be integrated into intervention programmes to guarantee local acceptance, sustainability and effectiveness. It also recommends enlisting Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) in referring and linking cases of complications to appropriate health facility; and community health education campaigns and action research to bolster current efforts aimed at addressing these problems.