rational drug use

In Tanzania, a public-private partnership launched in 2003 used an accreditation approach to improve access to quality medicines and pharmaceutical services in underserved areas. The government scaled up the accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) program nationally, with over 9,000 shops now accredited. This study assessed the relationships between community members and their sources of health care and medicines, particularly antimicrobials, with a specific focus on the role ADDOs play in the health care system. We surveyed 1,185 households and audited 96 ADDOs and 84 public/nongovernmental health facilities using a list of 17 tracer drugs. To determine practices in health facilities, we interviewed 1,365 exiting patients. To assess dispensing practices, mystery shoppers visited 306 ADDOs presenting one of three scenarios (102 each) about a child’s respiratory symptoms. Of 614 household members with a recent acute illness, 73% sought outside care-30% at a public facility and 31% at an ADDO. However, people bought medicines more often at ADDOs no matter who recommended the treatment; of the 581 medicines that people had received, 49% came from an ADDO. ADDO dispensers are trained to refer complicated cases to a health facility, and notably, 99% of mystery shoppers presenting a pneumonia scenario received an antimicrobial (54%), a referral (90%), or both (45%), which are recommended practices for managing pediatric pneumonia. However, one-third of the dispensers needlessly sold antibiotics for cold symptoms, and 85% sold an antibiotic on request. In addition, the pneumonia scenario elicited more advice on handling the illness than the cold symptoms scenario (61% vs. 15%; p<0.0001), but overall, only 44% of the dispensers asked any of the shoppers about danger signs potentially associated with pneumonia in a child. Poor prescribing in health facilities, poor dispensing at ADDOs, and inappropriate patient demand continue to contribute to inappropriate medicines use. Therefore, while accreditation has attempted to address the quality of pharmaceutical services in private sector drug outlets, efforts to improve access to and use of medicines in Tanzania need to target ADDOs, public/nongovernmental health facilities, and the public to be effective.

In 2003, the government  of Tanzania introduced the accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) program to improve access to good-quality medicines in rural and peri-urban areas that have frequent drug shortages in public health facilities and few or no registered pharmacies. However, increasing access may also contribute to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) due to the potential overuse and misuse of drugs. We conducted a cross-sectional household survey in four regions in mainland Tanzania to characterize consumer care-seeking habits and medicines use and to determine the extent to which members of the community are knowledgeable about antimicrobials and AMR. We revealed that communities in the four regions have low levels of knowledge of the concepts of antimicrobials and their use and AMR. Level of public understanding rose with wealth status and education. Only one-third of 1,200 respondents (33.6%) had ever heard of a medicine called an antimicrobial, and 5–15% could name at least one antimicrobial spontaneously. Some thought other medicines, such as paracetamol, were antimicrobial (7.5%). People were equally likely to agree that pneumonia should be treated with an antimicrobial (21.4%) as well as common cold (28.4%). Understanding of AMR risks was better, particularly related to HIV and AIDS (32.2%) and malaria (38.6%)—most likely due to information campaigns focused on those two diseases. The level of knowledge decreased the further away respondents lived from an ADDO and where ADDO density was lower, which supports the use of ADDO dispensers as sources of community information and change agents for more appropriate medicine use. Lack of knowledge about antimicrobials and AMR in Tanzanian communities needs to be addressed through multi-pronged strategies that focus on prescribers and the public— especially those who are poorer and less educated.

The objective of this survey was to develop an indicator-based tool for systematic assessment and reporting of good pharmacy practice (GPP). The tool comprises a) a set of indicators, b) an indicator and survey manual, c) a data collection sheet, and d) Microsoft Excel based data collection and analysis tool. We developed a set of 34 pharmacy practice (PP) indicators using an iterative process to test their functionality in various pharmacy practice settings in Ethiopia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The indicator-based survey assessed five components of PP: system, storage, services, dispensing and rational drug use. The new GPP indicator-based assessment tool proved to be an easily applicable tool for uniform assessments of pharmacy practices and identification of problem areas. It allows for both intra- and inter-country comparison and for self-assessment. However, the indicators need to be further developed to test their applicability in developed countries.

Recent studies in Guyana and Suriname revealed diminished efficacy of artemisinin derivatives based on day-3 parasitaemia. Data on malaria medicine quality and pharmaceutical management, generated in the context of the Amazon Malaria Initiative, were reviewed and discussed. Numerous substandard artemisinin-containing malaria medicines were identified in both countries, particularly in Guyana. The quality of malaria medicines and the availability and use of non-recommended treatments could have played a role in the diminished efficacy of artemisinin derivatives described in Guyana and Suriname.

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