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Appropriate treatment of malaria? Use of antimalarial drugs for children's fevers in district medical units, drug shops and homes in eastern Uganda

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OBJECTIVE To evaluate the quality of pharmaceutical care of malaria for children in eastern Uganda prescribed at government health units and drug shops, and administered by caretakers at home; and to assess its appropriateness in relation to national treatment guidelines, which recommend chloroquine over 3 days.

METHODS We followed 463 children under 5 years whose caretakers attended two drug shops and two government health units to seek treatment for fever. The children were examined and the caretakers interviewed on the day of enrolment in the study (day 0), and in their homes on days 3 and 7. Data was collected on drug use prior to attending the shop or health unit, the treatment provided at these study sites, and the administration of drugs at home over the following 3 days.

RESULTS Before attending the study sites, 72% of children had already been given some biomedical drugs, and 40% had received the recommended drug, chloroquine. Health workers prescribed chloroquine for 94% of the children, but only 34% of the recommended doses followed guidelines. Two-thirds of the children were prescribed an injection of chloroquine. By day 3, according to caretaker reports, about 38% of the children had received chloroquine in compliance with the instructions given by the health workers and drug shop attendants. Only 28% of the children had received chloroquine at the optimal dose of 20–30 mg/kg recommended by national policy.

CONCLUSION The methods were useful for examining adherence of both caretakers and health care providers to national guidelines and the extent to which caretakers were compliant with providers' prescriptions. Chloroquine and antipyretics were the drugs of choice for fever in these areas of rural eastern Uganda. But children did not receive the recommended dosage of chloroquine because of lack of compliance on the parts of providers as well as users of health care.

Keywords: Uganda; chloroquine; compliance; home treatment; malaria treatment

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Child Health and Development Centre, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, 2: Hellerup, Denmark, 3: Institute of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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