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Sex Transm Infect 82:182-186 doi:10.1136/sti.2005.016352
  • In practice

Antimicrobial self medication for reproductive tract infections in two provinces in Lao People’s Democratic Republic

  1. A Sihavong1,2,
  2. C S Lundborg2,6,
  3. L Syhakhang3,
  4. K Akkhavong4,
  5. G Tomson5,
  6. R Wahlström2
  1. 1Vientiane Capital Health Department, Ministry of Health, Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  2. 2Division of International Health (IHCAR), Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  3. 3Food and Drug Department, Ministry of Health, Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  4. 4National Institute of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  5. 5Medical Management Centre, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  6. 6Nordic School of Public Health and Apoteket AB, Goteborg, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to:
 Amphoy Sihavong
 c/o Rolf Wahlström, IHCAR, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden; amphoy.sihavong{at}phs.ki.se; rolf.wahlstrom{at}phs.ki.se
  • Accepted 12 September 2005

Abstract

Objectives: To describe antimicrobial self medication for reproductive tract infections (RTI) including sexually transmitted infections (STI), and to explore the understanding and use of health information among the adult population self medicating with antimicrobials for RTI/STI in two provinces of Laos. This could contribute to quality improvement of RTI/STI management.

Methods: Cross sectional community based study. Structured interviews (household survey) were conducted among 500 subjects aged 18 or more, who had used antimicrobials as self medication for RTI/STI during the past year. They were recruited among 3056 family members in Vientiane capital and Champasak province, divided equally between the two study sites, and between urban and rural areas.

Results: Among the 500 respondents reporting self medication for RTI/STI, 91% had bought the antimicrobials from local private pharmacies without a physician’s prescription. 58% of those were advised to buy the drugs from drug sellers. Ampicillin (not recommended as syndromic treatment for RTI/STI) was used in 83% of all cases, in 28% combined with tetracycline. 79% of respondents used antimicrobials for a non-recommended duration of time. Most respondents had access to health messages for RTI/STI, largely from radio/television and drug sellers. However, only 17% of all respondents reported that they had ever used a condom.

Conclusions: More than three quarters of respondents, self medicating for RTI/STI with antimicrobials, used inappropriate drugs bought from private pharmacies. There is a need to improve RTI/STI management, including health promotion, through interventions at community level, and to health providers, including private drug sellers.

Footnotes

  • Conflict of interest: none.