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Save the children initiative (2014), estimated general infant mortality rate to be 100 deaths per 1,000 live births for the 2011-2014 period (NPC, 2014). Regionally, south east, south west, north east and northwest have infant mortality rates of 74, 81, 129 and 139 deaths per 1,000 live births respectively. Indicating the highest concentration in the North West (NPC, 2014).This research examines if there is any relationship between some cultural practices and infant death in Wamakko Local Government Area. The town consist of 11 wards, in which six wards were selected out of the 11 wards. 100 women respondents were drawn on the basis of availability. The target population were married women who must have given birth at least once. The unit of analysis is married women. The research’s critical variables are maternal rights, decision making, traditional circumcision and awareness. The type of data sought is quantitative (questionnaire). Simple percentage and chi-square in SPSS 20.1 version were used to test the hypothesis. Findings revealed that there is relationship between the levels of traditional circumcisions carried out by traditional experts and the higher level of infant mortality. And also, there is relationship between higher mother’s participation in decision making and the lower level of infant mortality in Wamakko. The research recommends thatthere should be proper awareness of the negative impact of some of these cultural practices on infant mortality should be created. The restrictions of maternal right should be reviewed and the female should be allowed more opportunity in decision making within the home.



Infants and child mortality rate is an accepted global indicator of the health and socioeconomic status of a given population (WHO; 1981, 1990). Despite the arguments that the determinants of infant and child mortality were extensively investigated and that there was a continued decrease in mortality rates among children and infants in most of the developing world, these reductions are not impressive when compared to other developed countries like Japan, France, Spain and United States. In Nigeria, factors such as economic and political policies had been associated with infant mortality, but some researchers explained that, most of the reasons for the death of infants are deeply rooted in people’s beliefs and attitudes concerning child care and behavioural practices in relation to health strategies (Save the Children, 2014).

The perceptions and attitudes of people influence the way they perceive and react to health related issues, as such any health development initiative that does not take into Account cultural issues might prove ineffective in view of this, the present study is designed to find out the relationship between cultural practices and infant mortality in Wammako community Sokoto State.

Statistic from the save the children organization, an international non-profit group, has revealed that almost 800,000 Nigerian children die every year before their fifth birthday, making Nigeria the country with the highest number of new born death’s in Africa (Save the


Children, 2014). The group said majority of deaths under the age of five particularly in the Northern part of the country are due to treatable and preventable diseases.

The rate of infant mortality (probability of dying before the first year of life), varies globally, for instance, in 2012 some of the developed countries like Japan, France, Spain and United states had an infant mortality rate of 2,4,4 and 6 death per 1,000 live births respectively (World Population Data Sheet, 2012). In 2013, Japan France, Spain and United states, infant mortality rate declined to 1.3, 3.7, 3.8 and 5.5 respectively (world development indicators, 2013). In 2014, Japan France, Spain and United states, Infant mortality rate also declined to 1.6, 2.4, 3.6 and 5.3 respectively (World development indicators, 2014) But huge disparities exist within ethnic and racial groups in some of these countries.

In 2012, less developed countries like Benin, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa had an infant mortality rate of 62, 52, 82, and 35 deaths per 1,000 live births respectively (World development indicators, 2012). In 2013 Benin, Kenya and Nigeria’s Infant mortality rate declined to 60, 50, and 79 deaths per 1,000 live births respectively (World population data sheets, 2013). In 2014, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa still retained their infant mortality levels, only Benin declined to 56 deaths per 1,000 live births(World Population Data Sheet, 2014).


In every culture, important practices exist which celebrate life-cycle transitions, perpetuates community cohesion, or transmits traditional values to subsequent generations. These traditions reflect norms of care and behaviour based on age, life stage, gender, and


social class. While many traditions promote social cohesion and Unity, others erode the physical and psychological health and integrity of individuals, particularly girls and women. Factors such as limited access to education, information, and services allow those that may be most harmful to persist. This research focuses on those cultural practices responsible for high infant mortality rate in Wammako Local government area of Sokoto State, for instance, Female genital cutting, shaving of infants hair with unsterilized blades, early marriage, preference for male children, tribal marking etc.

The Hausa society located in the Northern part of Nigeria, still have some reported cases of female genital cutting which results to different health implications such as V.V.F, excess blood letting and sometimes results to the death of the infant (UNFPA, 2007). Female genital cutting exposed females to so many diseases that can lead to death for instance a study in Maharashtra in India reveals that female genital cutting is associated with high level of infant mortality (Griffiths et. al, 2003).

In many African culture around the world, women do no decide on their own to seek medical cere; the decision belongs to their male partner or to senior members of the family. This male dominated structure of the African family, places women in an inferior status creating a situation of inequality with respect to right covering most facets of life (El safty,2001).

High rate of infant mortality is an indicator of societal problems and general discrepancies in people’s health condition. If infant mortality is lowered, children will likely survive until maturity thereby contributing substantial years to life expectancy of the


population. In addition, high infant mortality means that parents cannot be sure their children will survive to contribute to the family economy and to take care of them in their old age. The parents are thus caught in a death trap, and they have to keep producing, because child birth in third world countries is often but by no means always a supportive one (Doyal, 2002:128).

Changing the cultural practices of the people requires an understanding of the practices, its meaning and reason for doing it and the knowledge of the people about its implication (Doyal, 2002, 10). In cases of cultural practices affecting infant mortality one can only understand the causes when a study is conducted


This study is aimed at showing the relationship between cultural practices and infant mortality in Wammako Local Government Area of Sokoto State Nigeria.The specific objectives of the study are the following.

(1)   To assess people’s awareness of the negative impact of these cultural practices and to determine the demographic characteristics of respondents; sex, age, and level of education.

(2)   To examine the relationship between restricted maternal right and infant mortality.

(3)   To examine the relationship between traditional circumcisions carried out by traditional experts and infant mortality.

(4)   To show if mother’s participation in decision making affect the level of infant mortality.



The scope of this study covers only Wammako Town, In Wammako Local

Government area of Sokoto State. This study limits itself to those cultural practices and

attitudes that are associated with child health, maternal rights and are directly or indirectly

linked to infant mortality. The study focuses on reproductive mothers, but also targets groups

like medical practitioners and traditional birth attendants.


By the word justification, it ask about why a researcher should conduct a specific study on a given area. The identification of the cultural practices that leads to infant mortality will reduce the high rate of infant mortality in Wammako.

There is a wide range of health conditions affecting infants in developing countries long term consequences. The focus on infant health, hinges on the fact that infant mortality is prevalent in developing nations.

The reason for conducting this research can be seen as follows;

(1)   The problem of infant mortality is a worldwide phenomenon but more Prevalent in developing countries like Nigeria, whose infant mortality rate is presently 79 deaths per 1,000 live births (World Population Data Sheet, 2014) infants constitute an important segment of any population; therefore low infant mortality contributes substantially to high life expectancy in the population. Thus, the study that would help to abolish the problem of infant mortality is justifiable.


(2)   The study of infant mortality is very important because it reveals how well the most vulnerable members of the population are treated. In addition, it will help alert the general populace about negative cultural practices and their implications for infant survival.

(3)   The study will help alert policy makers that decline in mortality will lead to greater survival of children and it will motivate people to think of limiting the number of children they would have. These can be achieved as the paper will serve as a form of awareness to both the policy makers and the people. The paper will in one way or the other motivate people to think of limiting the number of children they would have, because it brings out the dangers in infant health when not properly taking care of.


(1)   The higher the mother’s participation in decision making and the lower the level of infant mortality.

(2)   The higher the level of traditional circumcisions carried out by traditional experts and the higher the level of infant mortality.


Culture: -That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, and morals,law, custom,and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as member of society (Tylor 1871:1). For the purpose of this research culture is defined in terms of those traditionally acquired knowledge and practices (in relation to women, child birth, and infant health) that have negative effects and could lead to infant mortality.


Cultural Practices: are those traditional practices that have been handed down fromgeneration to generation (Spradley, 2000). For the purpose of this research, cultural practice is operationally defined as the collective practices and beliefs in relation to women’s life, obstetriccare and infant health which communities husbands, mothers etc. put into practice. Infant Mortality: is death during the first years of life.

Maternal Right: The right of women to participate in decision making, which affects theirinfants, without any cultural restrictions.

Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAS): They are post menopausal, thought to haveaccumulated enough experience especially in obstetric and infant health. i.e. the care of women during and after pregnancy, and issues relating to infant health.

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