The role of private drug vendors as malaria treatment providers in selected malaria endemic areas of Sri Lanka.J Vector Borne Dis. 2006 Jun; 43(2):58-65.JV
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES
The involvement of private drug vendors in malaria treatment is particularly high in developing countries and understanding their practices and knowledge about antimalarials and malaria treatment will aid in devising strategies to increase the correct use of antimalarials and improve adherence to the government's malaria drug policy. Results of a study on the knowledge and practices of the private drug vendors conducted in seven districts in Sri Lanka, mostly in malarious areas are presented.
Data on awareness of government's malaria drug policy, practice of issuing antimalarials, knowledge about malaria and antimalarial drugs were collected from the drug vendors using pre-tested questionnaire in vernacular language. Data were statistically analysed using Stata 8.2. Chi-square test was carried out for individual explanatory variables and a logistic regression model was applied taking all response variables as binary outcome.
Vendors' knowledge on antimalarials was poor with 58% of the vendors being unaware of the government malaria drug policy in the country. Also, the advice provided to customers buying antimalarials was limited. However, the majority of the private vendors emphasised that they were aware of the importance of case confirmation before treatment as stressed in the national policy. Although, the vendors did not have a high awareness of national drug policies they were only found selling chloroquine and primaquine as recommended by the Ministry of Health.
INTERPRETATION AND CONCLUSION
In recent years Sri Lanka, as a whole, has experienced very little malaria. The reduction in demand for antimalarials due to low incidence levels may have influenced the knowledge and awareness on antimalarials and government drug policies. However, since low levels of malaria do not guarantee that epidemics will not occur, attempts to educate private drug vendors as a part of an organised control programmes are of major importance.