CUHAS med students rising to practice what they preach

Monday December 3 2018

By Syriacus Buguzi
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Antibiotics are increasingly losing their effectiveness to treat common diseases and some researchers at the Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences (CUHAS) don’t want that happen.

They are proposing that all medical students in Tanzania should be sensitized on what is known as antibiotic stewardship—a coordinated process to help improve how the medications are used and prescribed.

Being health scientists, a lay man could have expected that the students at health universities harbor the right attitude and knowledge and practice on how antibiotics should be used, stored and prescribed however, research is telling us that this’ yet to make sense.

Mr Emmanuel Kimaro, from CUHAS, was eager to find out if medical students at his university are practicing what they preach when it comes to proper use of antibiotics. So, he went on to prove it by research.

Findings of a short study he carried out with a colleague, Nikhil Jadawji, have left great lessons in the country’s medical community. He sampled 275 undergraduate CUHAS students.

He had a prior idea that medical students could be abusing antibiotics, just like any other person who is unware of the growing threat of antibiotics resistance.

This is what he found, and I quote him. “The practice of self-medication and antibiotics was found to be high among medical students.”

After that, he made a cool suggestion, saying, “It is important to timely introduce the antibiotic stewardship programmes among medical students.”

What antibiotics were the CUHAS medical students “abusing?” Well, it was amoxicillin which stood at 24.3 percent, followed by metronidazole (15.1 percent), then ampicillin (9.8 percent) and ciprofloxacillin (9.5 percent).

So, who did it most? Males or females? According to the findings, which are yet to be published in a scientific journal, it was the females who practice more self-medication compared to males.

Reasons they gave? Some said, it was cost-saving to simply self-medicate. Those formed about 31.9 percent. However, 34.9 percent had little knowledge about antibiotics. Others, 31.5 percent, said it was convenient for them to self-medicate.

Interestingly, 32.45 percent of them completed their doses and the rest said the main reason for discontinuing their self-prescribed course of treatment, was that “the symptoms had disappeared.”

These findings were presented during the 10th Scientific Graduation Conference in Mwanza Region last month, themed: One Health at Bugando. Is our Approach on the right track?”

By the way, when medical students abuse these antibiotics, it doesn’t and up just with them...it affects even other people suffer.

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