Background: Self-treatment with antimicrobials is common in sub-Saharan Africa. Little is known about the prevalence of this practice where malaria transmission intensity is low, and little is known about the prevalence of self-treatment with other medications such as antihypertensives and antihyperglycemics.
Methods: A two-stage randomized population-based cluster survey with selection proportional to population size was performed in northern Tanzania. Self-identified healthcare decision-makers from randomly selected households were asked to report instances of self-medication without a prescription in the preceding year. Associations between self-treatment and sociodemographic characteristics were assessed with Pearson's chi-squared and the Student's t-test.
Results: A total of 718 participants completed the survey, and 344 (47.9%) reported any household member obtaining medication without a prescription. Of these, 85 (11.8%) obtained an antimicrobial and four (0.6%) obtained an antihypertensive or antihyperglycemic. Of respondents reporting self-treatment, 306 (89.0%) selected the medication themselves. Self-treatment with antimicrobials was associated with post-primary education (OR 1.95, 95% CI 1.22-3.16, p=0.005), younger age (43.1 vs 48.7 years, p=0.007) and higher socioeconomic status score (0.42 vs 0.34, p=0.023).
Conclusions: Self-treatment with antimicrobials in an area of low malaria transmission intensity was uncommon and self-treatment with antihypertensives and antihyperglycemics was rare.
Keywords: Tanzania; anti-infective agents; antihypertensive agents; self-medication; sub-Saharan Africa.
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.