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Household surveys are crucial to get accurate information on how medicines are acquired, and used by consumers, as they provide the best evidence in the area. The objective of this study was to document household medicine storage practices in Gondar town, northwestern Ethiopia.
A cross-sectional household survey was conducted from April 5 to May 6, 2015. In the study, 809 households were surveyed from four sub-cities in the town selected through multistage sampling with 771 included in the final analysis. Data on the extent of storage, storage conditions, sources of medicines and their current status among others were collected through structured interviews and observations. The data were entered in to Epidata version 3.1, exported to and analyzed using Statistical Packages for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21.
Of the 771 households in the study, 44.2% stored medicines. Presence of family members with chronic illness(es) and higher levels of household incomes predicted higher likelihood of medicine storage. In the households which allowed observation of stored medicines (n = 299), a mean of 1.85 [SD = 1.09] medicines per household were found. By category, anti-infectives for systemic use (23.9%), medicines for alimentary tract and metabolism (19.2%) and those for cardiovascular system (17.7%) ranked top. Among individual medicines stored, diclofenac (10.7%), paracetamol (9.9%) and amoxicillin (8.0%) were on top of the list. Dispensaries (97.8%) and physicians (83.5%) were almost exclusive sources of medicines and advices/orders for medicines respectively. Nearly two-thirds of the medicines found were on use and a vast majority (76.5%) were stored in chests of drawers. Proportion of expired medicines was very low (3.14%).
The use of physicians’ and pharmacists’ advice to get medicines; use of dispensaries as principal sources, large proportion of medicines being in use and very low proportion of expiry showed good practices. However, storage places of medicines were not purpose built. Encouraging good practices through continued medicine use education and advocating appropriate medicine storage in medicine cabinets is required to improve storage conditions and consequent use of medicines.