Treatment practices of households and antibiotic dispensing in medicine outlets in developing countries: The case of Ghana

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Introduction: Antibiotic resistance, associated with inappropriate drug use, is a global public health threat. The pharmaceutical sectors in developing countries are poorly regulated leading to antibiotic sales and use without a prescription. The study documents the treatment of acute illnesses in households and the antibiotic dispensing practices of medicine sales outlets in Eastern region, Ghana. Method: Twice-weekly illness recall visits were made to 12 households in three rural communities over eight consecutive weeks. Detailed fieldnotes were taken and analysed using a thematic approach. Quantitative counts of health events and treatment were also conducted. Dispensing practices were systematically observed and documented in three rural and three urban medicine outlets for analysis. Result: Fever, abdominal, and respiratory symptoms were the most common causes of ill-health in the 12 households. Most (65%) medicine-use events involved self-treatment with pharmaceuticals; 40% of medicineuse events involved antibiotics, often without a prescription. Although the number of antibiotic transactions without prescription in rural medicine outlets (n=139, 27.4%) was statistically significantly more than in urban pharmacies (n=140, 13.5%); z=6.7, p < .0001), the volume of antibiotics sold in pharmacies was higher. Penicillins were the most commonly dispensed antibiotics constituting 30% of antibiotic sales in urban medicine outlets and 46% in rural ones. The lack of controls in the dispensing of antibiotics, community knowledge and use of antibiotics in ways inconsistent with biomedical recommendations, poverty and perceived barriers to formal healthcare were factors that influenced the inappropriate use of antibiotics. Conclusion: Self-medication, including antibiotic self-prescription, constitutes an integral part of healthcare in the study settings and the qualitative data provides a contextual understanding of over-the-counter antibiotic acquisition and use. Inappropriate antibiotic use is apparent in the study settings. Stricter regulation of the pharmaceutical sector, training of dispensers and evidence-based treatment guidelines, and public education are potential interventions.
TidsskriftResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Udgave nummer12
Sider (fra-til)1180-1188
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 2018

ID: 195046707