Rationalizing artemisinin-based combination therapies use for treatment of uncomplicated malaria: A situation analysis in health facilities and private pharmacies of Douala 5e-Cameroon

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PLoS One. 2024 May 7;19(5):e0299517. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0299517. eCollection 2024.

ABSTRACT

Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) represent one of the mainstays of malaria control. Despite evidence of the risk of ACTs resistant infections in resource-limited countries, studies on the rational use of ACTs to inform interventions and prevent their emergence and/or spread are limited. The aim of this study was designed to analyze practices toward ACTs use for treating the treatment of uncomplicated malaria (UM) in an urban community. Between November 2015 and April 2016, a cross-sectional and prospective study was conducted in the 6 health facilities and all pharmacies in the Douala 5e subdivision, Cameroon. Anonymous interviews including both open- and closed-ended questions were conducted with selected participants among drug prescribers, patients attending the health facilities, and customers visiting the pharmacies. Data analysis was performed using StataSE11 software (version 11 SE). A total of 41 prescribers were included in the study. All were aware of national treatment guidelines, but 37.7% reported not waiting for test results before prescribing an antimalarial drug, and the main reason being stock-outs at health facilities. Likewise, artemether+lumefantrine/AL (81%) and dihydroartemisinin+piperaquine (63.5%) were the most commonly used first- and second-line drugs respectively. Biological tests were requested in 99.2% (128/129) of patients in health facilities, 60.0% (74) were performed and 6.2% were rationally managed. Overall 266 (35%) of 760 customers purchased antimalarial drugs, of these, 261 (98.1%) agreed to participate and of these, 69.4% purchased antimalarial drugs without a prescription. ACTs accounted for 90.0% of antimalarials purchased from pharmacies, of which AL was the most commonly prescribed antimalarial drug (67.1%), and only 19.5% of patients were appropriately dispensed. The current data suggest a gap between the knowledge and practices of prescribers as well as patients and customers misconceptions regarding the use of ACTs in Douala 5e subdivision. Despite government efforts to increase public awareness regarding the use of ACTs as first-line treatment for UM, our findings point out a critical need for the development, implementation and scaling-up of control strategies and continuing health education for better use of ACTs (prescription and dispensing) in Cameroon.

PMID:38713730 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0299517