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.
- CPS, Champasak province
- RTI, reproductive tract infections
- STI, sexually transmitted infections
- VTC, Vientiane capital
- antimicrobial self medication
- reproductive tract infections
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Conflict of interest: none.