Objective: To investigate the knowledge and practice among private pharmacy staff in Hanoi regarding case management of mild acute respiratory infection (ARI) in children.
Methods: Sixty private pharmacies in Hanoi were randomly selected. Knowledge was assessed through interviews with pharmacy staff using a questionnaire; practice was assessed through the Simulated Client Method.
Results: In the questionnaire, 20% of the pharmacy staff stated that they would dispense antibiotics. In practice, 83% of the pharmacies dispensed antibiotics. Only 36% of the cases were handled according to guidelines. In the questionnaire, 81% of interviewees stated that antibiotics are not effective in short therapeutic courses. In practice, 48% of the antibiotics were dispensed in courses less than five days. Traditional herbal medicines were dispensed in 41% of the encounters. In the questionnaire, 53% of the pharmacy staff stated that they would ask the patient about difficulty of breathing. In practice, questions related to difficulty of breathing were asked in less than 10% of the encounters.
Conclusions: Dispensing of antibiotics for mild ARI was common practice among private pharmacies, and there was a significant difference between knowledge and practice. Interventions are needed to improve pharmacy practice in Hanoi.