Knowledge among drug dispensers and antimalarial drug prescribing practices in public health facilities in Dar es Salaam
Appolinary AR Kamuhabwa,1 Richard Silumbe2
1Unit of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, School of Pharmacy, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, 2Pharmacy Council, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Background: Irrational prescribing and dispensing of antimalarials has been identified as a contributing factor in the emergence of malaria parasites resistant to existing antimalarial drugs. Factors that contribute to such irrational prescribing and dispensing should therefore be identified to address this problem. The aim of this study was to assess irrational antimalarial drug dispensing and prescribing practices in public health facilities.
Methods: A descriptive-retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted between January and June 2011 in order to assess prescribing and dispensing practices for antimalarial drugs in three public hospitals and nine health centers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Thirty-two drug dispensers were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. A total of 4,320 prescriptions for the period January to December 2010 were collected and assessed for antimalarial drug prescribing patterns.
Results: The majority (84.6%) of drug dispensers had poor knowledge regarding the basic information required from patients before dispensing artemether-lumefantrine. Seventeen of 32 drug dispensers did not know the basic information that should be given to patients in order to increase absorption of artemether-lumefantrine after oral intake. Most drug dispensers also showed limited knowledge about the dosage and contraindications for artemether-lumefantrine. Eighty-seven percent of all prescriptions contained artemether-lumefantrine as the only antimalarial drug, 77.1% contained at least one analgesic, and 26.9% contained at least one antibiotic, indicating unnecessary use of analgesics and antibiotics with antimalarial drugs. A substantial number of prescriptions contained antimalarial drugs that have already been declared ineffective for the treatment of malaria in Tanzania, providing additional evidence of inadequate knowledge among health care workers concerning treatment policy.
Conclusion: Despite the government's efforts to increase public awareness regarding use of artemether-lumefantrine as first-line treatment for uncomplicated malaria, there is still irrational prescribing, dispensing, and use of this combination. Based on the results of this study, it is proposed that regular on-the-job training and continuing education be provided to drug dispensers and prescribers in public health facilities.
Keywords: artemether-lumefantrine, drug dispensers, malaria, prescribing, knowledge
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