Assessment of rational drug use and prescribing in primary health care facilities in North West Ethiopia

Z. Desta, T. Abula, L. Beyene, M. Fantahun, A. G. Yohannes, S. Ayalew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations


A study on rational drug use was undertaken in nine health centres (HCs) and nine health stations (HSs) in Ethiopia. Prescribing, patient care and facility specific factors were measured using drug use indicators. Prescribing patterns of drugs were also assessed. With only few exceptions, the drug use indicators in HCs and HSs and between retrospective and prospective studies were similar despite differences in manpower and facilities. The average consultation time (in minutes) in HSs and HCs was 5.1±0.8 and 5.8±1.06, respectively. The dispensing time (in minutes) was 1.5±0.7 in HSs and 1.9±0.6 in HCs. Both patient care indicators seem to be adequate to influence patient satisfaction to the overall health service and patient knowledge of important dosage instructions. Most drugs (more than 89% in HCs and 71% in HSs) were actually dispensed from the health facilities and labelling was satisfactory. Prescribing by generic names (average: 75% in HCs and 83% in HSs) was encouraging. While the availability of key drugs was ensured, essential documents were missing in most facilities or they were unpopular for use, and those available required revision and updating. Polypharmacy in which the number of drugs/encounter was <2.5 was minimal, but that a large proportion of the prescriptions contained two or more drugs could result in adverse drug-drug interactions. The most frequently prescribed drugs were anti-infectives and analgesics accounting for over 76% in HCs and 82% in HSs and in most cases they are probably prescribed with little justification. The exposure of patients to antibiotics (average: 60% in HCs and 65% in HSs) was unacceptably high to justify epidemiological trends. The high exposure of patients to injections, especially in the HSs (over 37%), should be seen from the health and economic points of view. The results revealed priority areas for intervention. They also provide standard references to compare drug use situations and their change over time in different settings, area and time in Ethiopia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)758-763
Number of pages6
JournalEast African medical journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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    Desta, Z., Abula, T., Beyene, L., Fantahun, M., Yohannes, A. G., & Ayalew, S. (1997). Assessment of rational drug use and prescribing in primary health care facilities in North West Ethiopia. East African medical journal, 74(12), 758-763.