HomeLUMINAvol. 20 no. 1 (2009)

Iya-Agbebi, Traditional Birth Attendant in Yoruba Setting and the Issues on HIV and AIDS

Ruth Oluwakemi Oke

Discipline: Philosophy, Social Science, Anthropology



Yorubaland, as it is known today is in the South Western part of Nigeria. Its people, the Yoruba, occupy a large area; majority of which are found in Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara and Kogi States of Nigeria. They are also found in the Republic of Benin, Togoland, Niger, Cuba and Brazil.

The Yoruba, like other Africans attach importance to child- bearing. Once a woman misses her period, it is obvious that pregnancy has taken place. Necessary steps are taken to ensure the safety of the mother and the baby during and after pregnancy. Traditional birth attendant known as Iya-Agbebi is in charge of antenatal care of the pregnant woman until the time she delivers. The Iya –Agbebi works with theOnisegun, a Medicine man, to ensure safe pregnancy and delivery. The Iya Agbebi or Iya Abiye is the focus of this paper to examine if there have been changes on the practices on antenatal over the past years and now. Most of these Iya –Agbebis in the modern society are attached to mission homes and Churches. This research aimed to examine activities, what and how they practice, who are their clients and what are the risks of HIV and AIDS that they were likely to be exposed to during the course of duty.