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Prepackaged therapy for urethritis: the "MSTOP" experience in Cameroon.
  1. F Crabbé,
  2. J P Tchupo,
  3. T Manchester,
  4. T Gruber-Tapsoba,
  5. D Mugrditchian,
  6. J Timyan,
  7. G Goodridge,
  8. C Cheta,
  9. M Laga,
  10. G Dallabetta
  1. Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium.


RATIONALE: The social marketing of STD treatment may be a strategy to increase the availability of effective therapy for urethritis in male patients. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a pilot project of social marketing of urethritis treatment packages. The project, initially designed for over the counter sale in private pharmacies, was finally restricted by national health authorities to primary healthcare settings in Yaoundé and Douala, Cameroon. METHODS: Monthly sales of packages containing antibiotics, condoms, partner referral cards, and written information on STDs were monitored by the social marketing agency. Structured interviews were conducted with a sample of traceable patients who had consulted for urethritis. Structured interviews completed by focus group discussions were conducted among healthcare providers. Interview findings were further validated by a "mystery patient" survey, using surrogate patients. Lastly, 15 key informants among the decision markers involved in the project were interviewed in depth. Local independent consultants carried out the whole evaluation. RESULTS: A total of 1392 treatment packages were sold in 10 months. Patients who had purchased the package reported high compliance with the treatment, with 99% taking the single dose of cefuroxime-axetil and 83% completing the course of doxycycline. 76% notified all or some partners, and 84% of those who had sex during treatment used condoms. In contrast, only 27% of trained healthcare providers prescribed "MSTOP". They questioned the omission of laboratory diagnosis, the selection of antibiotics, and the duration of therapy. Public health authorities were also sceptical about the choice of antibiotics and viewed the initial project as an overt encouragement of self medication. CONCLUSIONS: Although the MSTOP project was not implemented in the way it had initially been designed, it highlighted the patients' interest in the product. Public health authorities in Cameroon should have been made aware of the limitations of the formal sector's response to STD care among men before over the counter sale of prepackaged therapy could have been considered as an alternative approach to inadequate self medication.

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