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clinmed/2002050003v1 (May 16, 2002)
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A survey of drug use patterns in western Nepal

Ravi P Shankar, Pawan Kumar, Aravindam M Theodore, Praveen Partha, and Nagesh Shenoy

Background: In Nepal, traditional health care providers have an important role to play in the provision of health services. Non-doctor prescribing of allopathic medicines is commonly carried out by compounders, health assistants and other practitioners. Self-treatment in which herbal remedies play a large role is also common. Most of the previous studies have been carried out in the Kathmandu valley. As studies in the Pokhara valley are lacking the present study was carried out. Methods: The study was carried out in Pokhara sub-metropolitan city and the surrounding villages in the month of September 2001 using a semi-structured questionnaire by the health workers of the community medicine department. The pattern of drug use in the preceding 6 month period was noted. Differences in the proportion of patients using self-medication and complementary medicines according to age, place of residence and socioeconomic status of family were analysed by the z test of proportions (p<0.05). Findings and conclusions: 112 households were surveyed during the study period. 120 individuals from these households had been prescribed medications during the study period. There was a total of 164 encounters with the health care system. Self-medication was practiced by 39 families during the study period. Home remedies accounted for 18.9 % of the drugs used. 71.6 % of the respondents using prescribed medications had used modern medicines. Self-medication was more common among rural households. Improving accessibility to medicines, improvement of the government health care system and greater integration of traditional and modern health care systems are recommended.