Essential Drugs Monitor No. 014 (1993)
(1993; 20 pages) [French] [Spanish]

Abrégé

This issue of the Essential Drugs Monitor deals primarily with information on drug usage. Despite the high costs of drug research, promotion, and consumption, relatively little is known about the patterns of drug use throughout the world. The bulk of this issue of the Monitor is dedicated to recent research studies on drug use. The first study presented shows how cultural perceptions influence the use of pharmaceuticals in Niiman, Ghana. Researchers found that self-medication or traditional medicines were often the primary means of treating illness and that the poverty in the community reinforced the use of ethno-medicines. Similar results were obtained by a study conducted in Chimbote, Peru in 1989 by Dr. Christopher Knauth. The Peruvian study also found a high incidence of irrational antibiotic use and prescription drug use without prescription. A third study looked at the use resources available at government-run health posts in northeastern Nepal in 1990. Again researchers found more community members used traditional medicines or consulted with traditional healers than visited government health posts. This phenomenon was largely attributed to transportation difficulties, high costs, and cultural perceptions of pharmaceuticals. The overall conclusion presented by these studies is that improving drug supply is not sufficient to improve drug use; other considerations, such as physical and economic barriers to health care services, religious beliefs, and cultural traditions, must also be taken into account. This issue of the Monitor also introduces readers to a new research series by the Action Programme on Essential Drugs.

Many of the news stories in this issue highlight national pharmaceutical policies, campaigns for drug access, and questions surrounding the reliability of drug information. Several featured articles in this issue explore the issues of controlling the quality of pharmaceuticals and improving rational drug use throughout the world. An article by Dr. Nathaniel Dube of the Zimbabwe Regional Drug Control Laboratory (ZRDCL) highlights the testing and resources available at ZRDCL to monitor the quality of pharmaceuticals in Zimbabwe and neighboring countries. Two other articles discuss the rational use of medicines in Latin America; one describes a campaign to improve rational drug use in Nicaragua while the other presents a study of irrational drug use and inappropriate prescription habits in Costa Rica. This issue also includes an interview with Professor Eyad Shatty, the Minister of Health of Syria, in which he discusses the country’s commitment to improving access to essential medicines and comprehensive medical care for its citizens.

 
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