BACKGROUND: Antibiotic resistance is a significant public health problem and is responsible for high mortality in children and new-borns. Strengthening the rational use of antibiotics and improving the quality and access to existing antibiotics are important factors in the fight against antibiotic resistance. This study aims to provide knowledge on the use of antibiotics in children in resource-limited countries in order to identify problems and possible avenues for improvement of antibiotics use.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective study in July 2020 and collected quantitative clinical and therapeutic data on antibiotic prescriptions between January and December 2019 in 4 hospitals or health centres in both Uganda and Niger, respectively from January to December 2019. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted among healthcare personnel and carers for children under 17 years of age, respectively.
RESULTS: A total of 1,622 children in Uganda and 660 children in Niger (mean age of 3.9 years (SD 4.43)) who received at least one antibiotic were included in the study. In hospital settings, 98.4 to 100% of children prescribed at least one antibiotic received at least one injectable antibiotic. Most hospitalized children received more than one antibiotic in both Uganda (52.1%) and Niger (71.1%). According to the WHO-AWaRe index, the proportion of prescriptions of antibiotics belonging to the Watch category was 21.8% (432/1982) in Uganda and 32.0% (371/1158) in Niger. No antibiotics from the Reserve category were prescribed. Health care provider's prescribing practices are rarely guided by microbiological analyses. Prescribers are faced with numerous constraints, such as lack of standard national guidelines, unavailability of essential antibiotics at the level of hospital pharmacies, the limited financial means of the families, and pressure to prescribe antibiotics from caregivers as well as from drug company representatives. The quality of some antibiotics provided by the National Medical Stores to the public and private hospitals has been questioned by some health professionals. Self-medication is a widespread practice for the antibiotic treatment of children for economic and access reasons.
CONCLUSION: The study findings indicate that an intersection of policy, institutional norms and practices including individual caregiver or health provider factors, influence antibiotic prescription, administration and dispensing practices.
© 2023. The Author(s).