Prescribing practices in the social health insurance programme at secondary hospitals in the federal capital territory, Abuja, Nigeria
Eunice, Bosede Avong
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The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 50% of medicines are inappropriately used globally. The situation is worst in developing countries such as Nigeria, where irrational prescribing practices account for wastage of resources, catastrophic medicines costs and poor access to health services. In 2005, the Social Health Insurance Programme was launched as a financially sustainable model to achieve cost effective and affordable health care services including medicines. This study investigated prescribing practices and availability of medicines in the Social Health Insurance Programme in accredited public sector secondary hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria.Methodology:The study is a descriptive, cross-sectional and retrospective survey of prescriptions of insured outpatients in the Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria. Four hospitals were selected by stratification of thirteen (13) public secondary hospitals in the territory into urban/peri-urban areas, followed by random selection of two hospitals from each stratum.A total of seven hundred and twenty (720) retrospective prescription encounters of insured outpatients were systematically selected from encounters between July 2009 and June 2010 at the selected facilities. Data on prescribing practices and the extent to which prescribed medicines were provided were assessed with the use of modified WHO/INRUD indicators. Descriptive statistics were generated with Epi-info (version 3.4.3) and SPSS (version 17.0)Results: Out of the seven hundred and twenty (720) prescriptions that were assessed analgesics/NSAID, antibiotics, antimalarials and haematinics/vitamins collectively accounted for 67.4% of the medicines prescribed.A comparison of the results with WHO/Derived reference values showed that average number of medicines prescribed per prescription (3.5 ±1, p<0.001) and the rate of antibiotic prescribing (53.7%, p=0.009) were higher than the WHO recommended ranges of (1.6-1.8) and (20.0- 25.4%) respectively.The use of generic names in prescribing (50.9%, p<0.0009) and medicines prescribed from the Essential Medicine List (74.2%, p=0.05) were considerably lower than the standard (100%) However, the rate of injection prescribing (12.49%, p=0.4) was within the recommended range (10.1–17.0%).The study also found that 85.1%, (p=0.001) of prescribed medicines were dispensed, while 93.4% (p=0.256) of essential medicines were dispensed which was lower than the recommended standard (100%). Overall, only 58%,(p<0.0001) of patients had all prescribed medicines completely dispensed and this was significantly lower than the desired standard (100%.) in social health insurance programmes.Conclusions:The findings of this study show trends toward irrational prescribing practices as characterized by poly-pharmacy, overuse of antibiotics, sub-optimal generic prescribing, as well as poor adherence to the use of NHIS-Essential Medicine List. There was sub-optimal provision of prescribed medicines. These are potential threats to the scheme‟s goal of universal access to health care in the year 2015. Pragmatic multi-component interventions are recommended to promote rational prescribing and improve equity in access to essential medicines.