Medicinal plants used for contraception and pregnancyrelated cases in Malawi: A case study of Mulanje District
Malawi’s maternal mortality rate is one of the worst. Due to shortfalls in modern hospitals, women resort to medicinal plants. The study investigated medicinal plants used as contraceptives, for treating pregnancy-related cases and general illnesses. Focus group discussions, key informants, participant observations and questionnaire interviews were employed. Data were analysed through Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS). Five plant species were documented for child spacing, 21 for pregnancy-related cases and 30 for curing general illnesses. In all cases, roots were the most widely used parts. Stomach pains and miscarriage comprised the most commonly mentioned cases. The most widely used application methods were drinking of infusion. However, validity of other methods (like putting plant parts on the roof wearing plant parts around waist) is questionable. More studies are required to assess the properties of these medicinal plants. Considering that medicinal plants are alleged to contribute to uterine ruptures, further studies are required to determine the safety of these plants. There is also need to verify validity of the questionable application methods. High dependence on roots jeopardizes survival of the plants hence more studies are needed to determine whether the properties found in roots are found in other parts of the plant.