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Original Article

Medicinal plants used in the treatment of maternal health-related problems by the Mapulana of Ehlanzeni District, Mpumalanga province, South Africa

Shalom Pabalelo Mashile, Milingoni Peter Tshisikhawe, Ndivhaleni Anox Masevhe.

A decreased mortality rate among infants and children has been a health target for most health facilities. South Africa’s free maternal health-care services are not adequately utilized due to the tradition of new mothers following their parents’ footsteps. The use of medicinal plant species in maternal health care has been perceived to be effective and reliable in preventing illness amongst communities. For this study, ethnobotanical data were collected by means of interviews using semi-structured questions responded to by the elderly, community adults and youth who had been selected on the basis of referrals. Infants within the communities have been treated with traditional medicine for ailments, such as colic, nail biting, sunken and bulging fontanelles. Hypoxis hemerocallidea Fisch.,C.A.Mey.&Ave-Lall, Lippia javanica (Burm.f.) Spreng., Vachellia karroo (Hayne) Banfi & Glasso and Annona senegalensis Pers. subsp. senegalensis were amongst plant species which were frequently reported as being used medicinally. The decoction was mostly prepared from the roots (79%) followed by bulbs (8%) and most of the decoction were taken orally. The study identified thirteen plants species used successfully for the treatment of bulging and sunken fontanelles.

Key words: maternal health care, bulging, sunken fontanelles

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