A Udosen. Traditional Bone setting in Africa: Counting the cost. The Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine. 2008 Volume 7 Number 1.
Poster Presentation At
The 5th SICOT/SIROT Annual International Conference held at Palais des Congrės, Avenue des France, Marrakech, Morocco, from August 29 to 1 September, 2007
Traditional Bone setting (TBS) is popular in Africa because its practitioners lay claims to supernatural influences.1234 Superstition, ignorance and poverty are the basis for continued patronage despite complications.123
Complications of TBS in a sub-Saharan African community is highlighted
Patients and Methods
Major complications of TBS among patients seen in the orthopaedic unit of a Nigerian hospital were evaluated. Patients’ demographics, pattern of complications and the comparative costs of treatments were analyzed between January and December, 2006.
185 patients had corrective procedures for various musculoskeletal injuries during this period. 84 (45%) of these were due to complications from TBS interventions (Table1). Male: Female ratio was 5:1. Average age was 38years. Corrective treatments included open reduction and internal fixation with or without bone grafting, Sequestrectomy, skin grafting, Manipulation under anaesthesia, release of contractures and amputations.
Financial cost of the corrective treatments ranged between 50,000 to 300, 000 Nigerian Naira (€400-3000) whereas the estimated cost of treating similar injuries when they are uncomplicated was about 7,500 to 70, 000 Nigerian Naira (€60-€500).
Photographs of some complications of TBS seen at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital Calabar, Nigeria
The volume of complications listed and those that present to the hospitals are quite insignificant compared to the number that are languishing in the villages because of poverty and ignorance.356 There is an erroneous belief in traditional Africa that the only available option for treatment of fractures in hospitals is
Sustained public enlightenment, reduction of poverty as well as establishing a workable health insurance policy to include rural dwellers may reverse this trend. Training and empowering rural orthopaedic workers is a pet project of the authors which requires sponsors.5 The author also initiates the manufacturing of local orthopaedic appliances which are available and affordable for the poor rural dwellers so as to reduce these complications.8910