Rational dispensing and use of artemether-lumefantrine during pregnancy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Artemether–Lumefantrine (ALu) is widely used for uncomplicated malaria during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. Because of the suspected teratogenic effects of artemether during the first trimester, quinine is used in early pregnancy unless the risks outweigh the benefits. The aim of this study was to assess dispensing practice of ALu in private pharmacies and knowledge of pregnant women regarding the use of ALu. This was a prospective-descriptive study involving visits to 200 private retail pharmacies (using a mystery shopper) and interviewing pregnant women at the municipal public hospitals in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Among the drug dispensers, 60 (30%) were pharmacists, 71(35.5%) nurse assistants, 34 (17%) pharmaceutical technicians and 35 (17.5%) sales persons with no formal education on drug dispensing. Among the dispensers, 14.5% had high knowledge, 38.0% had medium knowledge and 47.5% had low knowledge on the use of ALu during pregnancy. About thirty three percent of the drug dispensers were willing to dispense ALu during the first trimester of pregnancy. Sixty two percent of the drug dispensers indicated that ALu is the drug of choice for uncomplicated malaria after the first trimester of pregnancy. However, 36% indicated that ALu could not be used during pregnancy. A total of 200 pregnant women were interviewed. Among them, 16.5% were aware that ALu should not be taken during the first trimester of pregnancy. Only 17% of pregnant women were given information on the importance of taking food when using ALu, but none of them was given information on the importance of fatty meals when using ALu. In conclusion, the results show that most drug dispensers have inadequate knowledge about good dispensing practice of ALu in pregnancy. There is therefore a need for continuing training of drug dispensers regarding antimalarial drugs use in pregnancy.