Community knowledge on drugs commonly used for self-medication in Mbarara District
Mwoga, Joseph Ngobi
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Introduction: There is a concern that the high level of self-medication may be contributing to a large disease burden as a result of inadequate treatments and drug resistance. The study therefore aimed at assessing the community's knowledge on drugs commonly used for self-medication and the factors associated with self-medication in order to add more insight into the design of appropriate interventions for improving rational use of drugs. Objectives: Specifically, to identify the drugs commonly used in self-medication; the health problems for which the said drugs are used; the sources of these drugs; what the people know about the drugs they use in self-medication, where they obtain that knowledge and the factors that are associated with self-medication. Methods: A cross-sectional study that used qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection was conducted in Mbarara District between December 1909 and November 2000 Using a multistage cluster sampling technique, a total of 360 household heads or their spouses were interviewed using a standardised, pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire Also using a standard pre-tested guide, eight FGDs were also conducted with community members Three drugs were chosen to test the knowledge of the community Knowledge was operationally defined and limited to knowing what the drugs are used for and in doses as prescribed by the standard treatment guidelines. Qualitative data was analysed using master sheets while quantitative data was analysed using EPINFO software package. Results: Drugs most commonly used for self-medication were antimalarials (Chloroquine, Fansidar, Carnoquine, Quinine) 55.3%, analgesics (Aspirin, Panadol, Hedex, Action) 43.9%, and antibacterials (Co-trimaxazole, Penicillin, Tetracycline) 21.7% The health problems Tor which these drugs are used were fever 83.9%, cough 31.9%, and abdominal pain 14.4% The sources of the drugs doubled as the sources of the knowledge about the drugs and these included drug shops and private clinics 45%, ordinary shops 26.7%, government health units 20.8% The drugs Chloroquine, Septrin, and Mebendazole were respectively known by 42.8%, 15%, 7.8% of the respondents Correct knowledge about the drugs was found to be associated with acquisition of formal education Factors found to be associated with self-medication were; formal education. Those with formal education were more likely to seek for treatment from a health worker when they fell sick [OR=1.84, CL=1.07-3.15] and therefore less likely to practice self-medication. Other factors were: lack of money, long distances to health facility, lack of drugs in health units, non-severe illnesses, rude and corrupt health workers, and smelly dirty health units. Conclusions: Drugs commonly used in self-medication are antimalarials, analgesics and antibacterials. The illnesses for which the said drugs are used are fever, cough, and abdominal pain. The sources of these drugs and knowledge about them are drug shops and private clinics, ordinary shops and government health units. There are a few people out in the community who have correct knowledge about the drugs they use in self-medication. People without any formal education tend to practice self-medication more that those with some formal education. Recommendations: National Drug Authority should evaluate the informal sources of drugs and then regulate them The District Health Management Team should provide training programs for the informal health care providers on prevention and treatment of common diseases. The Health Sub-District staff should plan for and implement activities to provide support supervision for the informal health care providers. The health professional councils should strengthen the regulation and control of their members through routine supervision. Government of Uganda should empower its people (the communities) by providing universal education since the latter is a predictor of correct knowledge about drugs and tends to reduce likelihood of self-medication.