Traditional Reproductive Health and Family Planning Practices among the Dagomba
Background: This paper is a qualitative descriptive study of traditional reproductive health (RH) and family planning practices among Ghana's Dagomba. The purpose of the study was to examine the Dagomba traditional knowledge of RH practices and beliefs and their relevance in the context of modern health practices. Methods: Data for this study was gathered through qualitative methods, including individual in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and the use of a qualitative questionnaire among 37 participants. Thematic analysis was undertaken. Results: In examining the Dagomba traditional knowledge of RH practices, it was recognized that the concept of RH extends across the life continuum reaching beyond the sexually active adult population. The RH practices are based on the Dagomba health beliefs and value systems regarding sexuality and the body's functioning. The Dagomba’s health philosophies and practices regarding pregnancy, delivery, breastfeeding, and sexuality have public and preventive health functions, including conflicting positions. The typical traditional RH and FP practices include abstinence, rhythm, prolonged breastfeeding, and postpartum abstinence. Conclusion: We posit that when traditional knowledge of RH is examined critically by modern health experts, it could help us understand why people from different cultures have varying interpretations and uptake of modern RH practices. Thus, we invite biomedical practitioners to be culturally sensitive and incorporate relevant knowledge of traditional RH practices into their current health education efforts.
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