Use of Antimicrobial Medicines among University Students in Sierra Leone

Afolabi, M. O.; Macarthy, L.; Osemene, K. P.
January 2014
British Journal of Pharmaceutical Research;2014, Vol. 4 Issue 1, p101
Academic Journal
Aims: Misuse of antimicrobial medicines is a major contributory factor to development of resistant strains of micro-organisms, therapeutic failure and increased healthcare costs in many countries. To identify pattern of antimicrobial use among undergraduate students of the University of Sierra Leone and to determine possible gaps in their understanding of appropriate use of these therapeutic agents. Study Design: A cross-sectional survey of the students using a structured questionnaire and a stratified random sampling method to obtain the respective number of students from each college. Place and Duration of Study: Registered undergraduates in the three Colleges of the University of Sierra Leone, between March and June 2012. Methodology: A 25-item structured questionnaire was administered on a random sample of four hundred and eighteen (418) undergraduates of the University. The instrument explored respondents' pattern of self-medication with antimicrobials, knowledge of the indications for use and sources of supply. Results: Most students reported having self-medicated with antimicrobials at various times and there were gaps in their understanding of the medicines; with about 67% having some knowledge of correct indications for use. Majority of them (70%) obtained the medicines on demand from open drug markets without prescriptions and the medicines were used for such ailments as common colds and diarrhea. Previous experiences of treating similar symptoms ranked highest as the factor affecting demand and penicillins topped the list of commonly used antimicrobials. Most of the students did not complete full regimen of the medication for reasons of cost, long duration of treatment and side effects. Conclusion: There were knowledge gaps in the proper use of antimicrobial medicines and unrestricted access to prescription drugs was a major factor of misuse. The existing drug laws in the country should be strengthened to control indiscriminate sale and distribution. Basic courses on rational medicine use may need to be incorporated in the general studies programme of the University; with emphasis on the consequences of indiscriminate use of antimicrobial medicines.


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