‘NTA’, a locally named unclear condition that causes failure to thrive amongst under five children in southeastern Nigeria: An assessment of mothers’ and caregivers’ perception of its causes and management
Background: The age old childhood condition locally called ‘NTA’ in most South eastern parts of the country Nigeria is unclear and a challenge to health care professionals whose patients refuse orthodox medicine and choose alternative medicine. This study was to find the typical features of this condition as perceived by the populace
Method: Two hundred and twenty six questionnaires on symptoms and signs were satisfactorily filled by participants residing in parts of Ebonyi state, southeast Nigeria. Data were analysed using SPSS version 15. Cross tabulations and comparison of means were done using chi square with level of significance set to p<0.05.
Results: Over 90% (217/231) of the respondents including Nurses and community health extension workers, believed in the existence of ‘NTA’ with significant variation across levels of education (p=0.019); A total of 82.3% ( 190/231) reported peak occurrence between the ages of one to three months. Features were; Weight loss (94.4%), Excessive cry (89.2%), Dry skin (87.9%), Restlessness (86.6%), sleeplessness (80.5%), appearance of whitish/ dyspigmented hair on skin (77.6%), etc. Most respondents were unsure of cause, some assume infective and fewer assume dietary cause. A total of 82.7% (191/231) reported that the traditional healers were the best managers of ‘NTA’
Conclusion: The level of belief in the existence of ‘NTA’ is significant and deserves a research into the cause of the condition. The use of alternative medicine is indeed a challenge for us to use reason and wisdom to deal with culture, belief and illnesses.
Keywords: Alternative medicine, failure to thrive, south-eastern Nigeria, under five children