Author(s): Tavrow P, Shabahang J, Makama S
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Private outlets are the main suppliers of uncomplicated malaria treatment in Africa. However, they are so numerous that they are difficult for governments to influence and regulate. This study's objective was to evaluate a low-cost outreach education (vendor-to-vendor) programme to improve the private sector's compliance with malaria guidelines in Bungoma district, Kenya. The cornerstone of the programme was the district's training of 73 wholesalers who were equipped with customized job aids for distribution to small retailers. METHODS: Six months after training the wholesalers, the programme was evaluated using mystery shoppers. The shoppers posed as caretakers of sick children needing medication at 252 drug outlets. Afterwards, supervisors assessed the outlets' knowledge, drug stocks, and prices. RESULTS: The intervention seems to have had a significant impact on stocking patterns, malaria knowledge and prescribing practices of shops/kiosks, but not consistently on other types of outlets. About 32\% of shops receiving job aids prescribed to mystery shoppers the approved first-line drug, sulfadoxine-pyremethamine, as compared to only 3\% of the control shops. In the first six months, it is estimated that 500 outlets were reached, at a cost of about $8000. CONCLUSIONS: Changing private sector knowledge and practices is widely acknowledged to be slow and difficult. The vendor-to-vendor programme seems a feasible district-level strategy for achieving significant improvements in knowledge and practices of shops/kiosks. However, alternate strategies will be needed to influence pharmacies and clinics. Overall, the impact will be only moderate unless national policies and programmes are also introduced.
This article was published in Malar J
and referenced in Malaria Control & Elimination