Implementation of artemether-lumefantrine treatment policy for malaria at health facilities in Tanzania
V Mugoyela1, O Minzi2
1Department of Medicinal Chemistry, 2Unit of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, School of Pharmacy, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Background: The purpose of this study was to compare knowledge on the part of health workers in public and private health facilities about prescribing and dispensing of an artemether-lumefantrine combination, 3 years after moving from sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine to artemether-lumefantrine as a first-line treatment for nonsevere malaria in Tanzania.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of a convenience sample of 306 dispensaries and pharmacies was conducted in Dar Es Salaam and the Coast region of Tanzania. Of these, 122 were community pharmacies, 143 were private dispensaries, and 41 were public dispensaries. Specific outcome measures were health workers’ knowledge of the new malaria treatment guidelines, recommended doses of artemether-lumefantrine, and food requirements.
Results: A total of 489 health workers were included in the study. The respondents were prescribers in private dispensaries, public dispensaries, and community pharmacies. Participants included medical officers (3.7%), clinical officers (38%), pharmacists (5.7%), and pharmaceutical technicians (3.9%). Nearly all workers in the public dispensaries and about 50% of workers in private dispensaries and community pharmacies were aware of recommended first-line malaria treatment. The difference in the proportion of health workers with adequate knowledge about the new recommended antimalarial medicine in public and private dispensaries was statistically significant (P < 0.0001). There was a higher proportion of workers in public dispensaries who had adequate knowledge about doses of artemether-lumefantrine for adults compared with workers in private dispensaries (P = 0.001). Only 58.0% of respondents were able to state correctly the recommended doses in private dispensaries as compared with 77.0% in public dispensaries. Knowledge about the requirement for a concomitant fatty meal was not significantly different between workers in public and private dispensaries (P = 0.280) or between those working in public dispensaries and pharmacies (P = 0.622).
Conclusion: Knowledge about the use of artemether-lumefantrine was higher among health workers in public dispensaries than in their counterparts from private health care settings. The training organized by the Ministry of Health for workers in public health facilities in Tanzania contributed to such differences.
Keywords: knowledge, public dispensaries, private dispensaries, pharmacies