Transethnic itineraries for ethnomedical therapies in Nigeria: Igbo women seeking Ibibio cures


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Abstract

Although therapeutic itineraries have been studied in a variety of contexts, little research has investigated care-seekers’ quests for traditional medical treatments outside their own ethnic boundaries. The present study investigated 19 Igbo women seeking traditional cures from Ibibio indigenous healers in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Emerging data show that these Igbo women were uptaking Ibibio indigenous treatments primarily for health conditions that have failed to respond to initial treatments in their places of origin, were stigmatized at their own places of origin, or and were thought to have resulted from supernatural causes. Care-seeking outside patients’ ethnic borders was thus both a quest for a more effective treatment and a strategy for concealing therapeutic progress or and the nature of illness from the patients’ places of origin. Findings underscore the critical role of culture and place in health-seeking behaviour and the need for health care services to be responsive to the complex nature of cultural organization involving care-seekers’ and the critical ways this plays out in, flows into, and is negotiated through particular places during therapeutic quests.

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