According to the World Health Organization (WHO), current estimate of maternal mortality ratios is at more than 1000 per 100,000 live births in most African countries. Despite the existence of modern health facilities in Nigeria, over 58% of deliveries take place at home whereas only 37% take place in hospitals. As outcomes of pregnancy and their sequelae are purely left to the providence of women in many rural communities, the place of delivery is a great determinant of maternal and child morbidity and mortality. With the shortage of skilled birth attendants and uneven geographical distribution of the few available ones; traditional birth attendants tend to fill in the gap. This study employed a cross sectional design and using a simple random sampling technique, 420 women within the reproductive age (18 - 45 years) meeting the inclusion criteria for the study were selected. Results from the study indicated a high (88.8%) knowledge of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) but a poor (51.1%) perception about their practices. A significant relationship was shown between age (P<0.05), education status (P<0.05) and the frequency of patronage of TBAs Services. Although, perception about TBAs practices was poor, the role of TBAs in the improvement of women’s health (maternal and child health) in rural Nigeria cannot be ignored. TBAs remain major health resources in rural communities in developing countries as well as some parts of urban areas. Efforts need to be harnessed for training of TBAs through the Ministry of Health and Primary Health Care facilities close to their area of practices.
Key words: Knowledge, perception, traditional birth attendants, maternal mortality, Southern Nigeria.
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