Stop abdominal scarification, expert advises

A public health expert decries the uncontrolled use of traditional procedures for complicated ailments.

A public health consultant, Odion Adoghe, has advised members of the public, especially those who take their sick ones for abdominal scarification, to desist from the act.

Abdominal scarification or belly marks is the incision people inflict on their skin, as a traditional cosmetic practice, and as a protection against diseases.

Mr. Adoghe said in Abuja on Monday that the practice, which involves the use of razor blade for scratches, can be harmful.

“The act of abdominal scarification involves making markings with sharp razor blades over areas of abdominal pain or enlarged spleen of children or individuals who have or may constantly complain of fever or abdominal pain,” he said.

“When the scarification is made causing bleeding, it reduces the amount of blood carrying malarial or infection. Consequently, since the amount of infected blood cells is reduced, the body does not mount immune response or in some cases do not have enough cells to mount immune response,’’ he added.

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The doctor added that the complications do not result immediately, saying “only those who work in the hospitals around those localities eventually see those children who end up with complications…a good number of them get life threatening infections or bleed to death.”

He further said that not all sicknesses involving enlarged spleen can be alleviated by deliberately causing bleeding, draining of blood from the spleen, or reducing the blood volume or amount of blood cells.

Mr. Adoghe said that some traditional practices, including abdominal scarification, are “absolutely irrelevant, detrimental to health and should be abandoned.”

“The herbs that people drink in the process of scarification is probably what works better than the cutting with razor to reduce blood, that is hard to build with our poor nutritional status,” he said.

He explained that some ash alone or ash with herbs which are applied over the wounds to aid healing leaves tattoo-like scars.

“Nigeria should do more research and adjustments of medicines administered by herbalists to avoid overdose and side effects,’’ he said.

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