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J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Jan 3;109(1):1-9. Epub 2006 Jul 5.

Medicinal plants used to induce labour during childbirth in western Uganda.

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Department of Botany, Makerere University, P.O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda.


Traditional medicine usage in rural Ugandan population for day-to-day health care needs is close to 90%. Women and children form the bulk of the people reliant on herbal medicine. This study was undertaken to document how ethnomedical folklore aids childbirth in rural western Uganda by conducting field surveys, discussions and interviews with the resource users (mothers) and health providers (traditional birth attendants). Health surveys revealed that over 80% of childbirths are conducted at home by using herbal remedies in Bushenyi district. Seventy-five plants have been recorded for usage in inducing labour and some of these plants may be oxytocic. The dilemma lies in the toxicity levels and the unspecified dosages that may threaten the life of the unborn baby and the mother. The high population growth rate, high total fertility rate coupled with high maternal mortality and morbidity in Uganda calls for rethinking in gendered health provision policies and programmes for which herbal medicine integration in health care systems seems viable.

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