Prevalence and patterns of herbal Medicine use among children aged 0-12 'y ears admitted to Kisii level 5 hospital
Introduction: Traditional herbal medicine plays a significant role in the health structures of many communities. World Health Organization estimates suggest that nearly 80% of African communities used herbal drugs in 2008. Many prescription medications originated as herbal remedies, however lack of standardized dosage, unexpected side effects and complications are a key set back to their use as is their contribution to delays in seeking modern health services for life-threatening conditions. Clinicians in settings where traditional therapies are widely used need to gain better understanding of the prevalence and pattern of dual use of traditional and modern approaches to health care. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and pattern of traditional herbal medicine use among children aged 0-12years admitted to Kisii LevelS Hospital, and the factors associated with the u.s• e of these herbs. Design: This was a hospital-based cross-sectional survey. Data Analysis: Data obtained was coded and entered in preformed Exceldata sheet and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 17.0. The data has been presented as numbers, percentages, medians and ranges, and in the form of tables, pie chart as appropriate. Chi-square was performed on discrete variables to test for associations. Tests of associations were done using a significance level of 0.05. Study Utility: There is increasing need to address concerns arising from the use of traditional herbal medicines in many communities in this country with deeply embedded cultural practices. This study seeks to set a baseline by establishing the prevalence, and will provide a platform from which more analytical studies can be carried out. Methods: Caregivers of children admitted into Kisii level 5 hospital were invited to participate in the survey on use of herbal remedies. After obtaining informed consent, care-takers were interviewed to determine their socio-demographic characteristics and patterns of herbal therapy utilization in the current illness. In addition, key informant xi interviews with health workers and focus group discussions with herbalist groups were carried out to supplement the survey data. Results: Of the 260 children recruited into the study, 162 (62.3%) had used or continued to get herbs for the current illness. Of these, 58 (35.8%) had received more than one dose of the herbs. Someof the health workers believed that certain illnesses could only be treated by herbal remedies. The herbalists believed they formed an important part of child health care structures within the community stating that certain illnesses could only be treated by them. A significant factor associated with traditional herb use was the cost of service. Conclusion: Nearly two out of every three children admitted at Kisii Level 5 Hospital are on herbal therapy. Important factor that influence choice of herbs among these communities is the cost. The use of herbs is encouraged by a section of healthcare workers who hold the belief that certain illnesses only have herbal remedies. Herbalists .. have the potential to offer important screening and timely referral of sick children in these communities. Recommendations: The role of herbalists in the care of sick children needs further evaluation to determine patient outcomes.