Open Access Research article

Prevalence and patterns of prenatal use of traditional medicine among women at selected harare clinics: a cross-sectional study

Dudzai D Mureyi, Tsitsi G Monera and Charles C Maponga*

Author Affiliations

Drug and Toxicology Information Service, University of Zimbabwe School of Medicine, Parirenyatwa Hospital, Harare, Zimbabwe

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:164  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-164

Published: 27 September 2012



Prenatal use of traditional medicine or complementary and alternative medicine is widespread globally despite the lack of evidence of the effectiveness of these therapeutic options. Documentation on the prevalence and patterns of this maternal practice in the Zimbabwean setting was also lacking.


A cross sectional survey of 248 women at selected health centres in Harare was carried out to address the need for such data using an interviewer-administered questionnaire.


Fifty-two (52%) (95% C.I. 44%-60%) of the participants reported to have used at least one traditional medicine intervention during the third trimester of their most recent pregnancy to induce labour, avoid perineal tearing and improve the safety of their delivery process. The study found prenatal use of traditional medicine to be significantly associated with nulliparity and nulligravidity. Such practice was also significant among participants residing in a particular high density suburb located in close proximity to informal traders of traditional medicines. Prenatal traditional medicine use was not significantly linked to experiencing an obstetrics-related adverse event. Instead, participants who reported not using any traditional medicine during pregnancy reported experiencing significantly more adverse events, mainly perineal tearing during delivery.


The practice of prenatal use of traditional medicine was significant in the study setting, with a prevalence of 52%. A variety of products were used in various dosage forms for differing indications. Nulliparity, nulligavidity and possible accessibility of these products were the factors significantly associated with prenatal use of traditional medicine. Prenatal use of traditional medicine was not significantly associated with any obstetric adverse event.

Traditional medicine; Prenatal; Prevalence