Self-Reported Use of Anti-Malarial Drugs and Health Facility Management of Malaria in Ghana
A structured questionnaire was used to collect data from 500 respondents who were diagnosed clinically and/or parasitologically for malaria at Agogo Presbyterian Hospital and Suntreso Polyclinic, both in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Collected information included previous use of anti-malarial drugs prior to attending the health facilities, types of drugs used, how the drugs were used, and the sources of the drugs. In addition, the anti-malarial therapy given and outcomes at the two health facilities were assessed.
Of the 500 patients interviewed, 17% had severe malaria, 8% had moderate to severe malaria and 75% had uncomplicated malaria. Forty three percent of the respondents had taken anti-malarial drugs within two weeks prior to hospital attendance. The most commonly used anti-malarials were chloroquine (76%), sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (9%), herbal preparations (9%) and amodiaquine (6%). The sources of these medicines were licensed chemical sellers (50%), pharmacies (21%), neighbouring clinics (9%) or "other" sources (20%) including left-over medicines at home. One hundred and sixty three (77%) of the 213 patients who had used anti-malarial drugs prior to attending the health facilities, used the drugs inappropriately. At the health facilities, the anti-malarials were prescribed and used according to the national standard treatment guidelines with good outcomes.
Prevalence of inappropriate use of anti-malarials in the community in Ghana is high. There is need for enhanced public health education on home-based management of malaria and training for workers in medicine supply outlets to ensure effective use of anti-malaria drugs in the country.