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Free Content Prescriptions and dosages of anti-tuberculosis drugs in the National Tuberculosis Control Programme of Malawi

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SETTING: All 44 non-private hospitals in Malawi treating pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) patients with an oral regimen (0.5RHZE/1.5R3H3Z3E3/6HE).

OBJECTIVES: In new smear-positive PTB patients, to determine whether: 1) numbers of tablets were correctly prescribed according to pre-treatment weights, and 2) medication dosages were adequate, too low or too high.

DESIGN: Retrospective review of TB registers and TB treatment cards for patients registered with new smear-positive PTB between 1 October and 31 December 2001.

RESULTS: Of 1970 patients aged ≥15 years, 1211 (62%) had treatment cards and pre-treatment weights. Incorrect prescriptions were given to 88 (7%), and many of these received dosages of anti-tuberculosis drugs that were too high or too low. For those receiving correct prescriptions, daily treatment in the initial and continuation phases was generally associated with adequate dosages of drugs. However, in the initial intermittent phase, between 3% and 40% of patients received anti-tuberculosis drug dosages that were too low.

CONCLUSION: A small percentage of patients receive incorrect prescriptions, which can be resolved by training and supervision. In those receiving correct prescriptions, intermittent treatment provides dosages that are sometimes too low. Weight bands for intermittent treatment should be re-examined.
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Keywords: Malawi; dosages; drugs; medication; tuberculosis

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Community Health Science Unit, National Tuberculosis Control Programme, Lilongwe, Malawi

Publication date: 01 June 2004

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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