Assessment of poultry medication practices by farmers and veterinarians before specimen submission to Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories in Makerere University
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In Uganda, the private sector is the major player in the distribution and use of veterinary drugs. This coupled with the laxity among drug regulatory bodies has enabled easy accessibility of veterinary drugs by farmers and other informal prescribers. This has predisposed to a widespread misuse of drugs especially, antibiotics through routine detrimental poly-pharmacy practices with the possible outcome of antimicrobial resistance. This study assessed how veterinary medicines are used in poultry health-care by farmers and veterinarians before specimen submission to veterinary diagnostic laboratories in Makerere University. A total of fifty respondents were enrolled in the study and a semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Ten of the participants were veterinary key informants and forty were individuals (farmers and veterinarians) that submitted samples to CDL and veterinary necropsy laboratory in Makerere University. The results showed that all the 40 respondents who submitted specimen treated their poultry before seeking laboratory diagnostic services to avoid professional veterinary costs or expenses. Sadly, laboratory services were sought as the last resort after a series of failed treatments. Twenty two percent of the field diagnoses by specimen submitters matched the laboratory diagnosis for a given specimen. Furthermore, oxytetracycline was the most frequently (35/133, 26.3%) used drug for treatment of any clinical sign observed by farmers. The farmers often attributed greenish diarrhea to Newcastle disease and bloody diarrhea to Coccidiosis. Despite the existing veterinary drug regulations, farmers often accessed and administered drugs, especially antibiotics without professional prescriptions. Antibiotics were commonly administered by farmers and veterinarians prior to laboratory diagnosis as a single class formulation (46/90, 51.1%) or inform of co- formulation (21/90, 23.3%) and concoctions (23/90, 25.6%). The improper use of antimicrobials coupled with the high level of inaccurate field diagnoses could result in emergence of AMR in poultry farms. Thus, there is a need to enforce existing veterinary drug regulations or policies on access to antimicrobials and as well as educate farmers on the value of laboratory diagnosis to deter them against use of drugs before laboratory diagnosis for the Uganda to prevent AMR in the poultry sector.