The Role of Traditional Medicine in the Etiology and Management of Chronic Kidney Disease in Moshi, Tanzania

Joseph Lunyera
Publication year: 

Background: Traditional medicine use is increasingly recognized as a common and important component of healthcare globally. Our study aim was therefore to identify the commonly used traditional medicines in Moshi, Tanzania, the factors influencing their use and associations between traditional medicine use & prevalence of chronic diseases.

Methods: We performed a secondary data analysis of a mixed methods study in Moshi, comprising 42 extended interviews and 5 focus group discussions with key informants, and cross-sectional household survey using interviewer-administered questionnaires and field-based diagnostic tests for CKD, diabetes, hypertension and HIV.

Results: We identified 168 traditional medicines, of which 15 (8.9%) and 5 (3%) were used to treat chronic diseases and CKD, respectively. Participants reported seeking healthcare advice from medical doctors (97%), family members (52%), pharmacists (24%) and friends or neighbors (14%). In a fully adjusted model, CKD patients were more likely than the non-CKD population to report a history of traditional medicine use (AOR=1.99; p=0.04), and family tradition (OR=1.97), difficulty finding a medical doctor (OR=2.07) and fewer side effects with traditional medicines (OR=2.07) as their reasons for preferring traditional medicines to hospital medicines.

Conclusions: Traditional medicine use is high in Moshi, and more so among the CKD population. A history of traditional medicine use is associated with the prevalence of CKD in Moshi. Most of these traditional medicines have biologically active substances that could potentially be developed into therapeutic and prophylactic therapies for CKD, and CKD-associated comorbidities.