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Study seeks to reduce unnecessary prescription of antibiotics for children

April 4, 2019
Study seeks to reduce unnecessary prescription of antibiotics for children
Antibiotic drugs. PHOTO/FILE

Scientists from two Tanzanian research centers – Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) and the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) – Mbeya Center – in collaboration with their counterparts from Switzerland, implement a study which will come up with tools that will help clinicians manage febrile in children more effectively, and thereby reduce unnecessary prescriptions of antibiotics.

The Botnar Foundation has issued Swiss Franc 7 million, equivalent to TZS 16.2 billion, towards implementation of the study which is being led by Unisanté. Apart from Unisanté, IHI and NIMR, other research centers taking part in the study are: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Swiss TPH.

The study, which is implemented in Tanzania and Switzerland through a joint project named ‘Dynamic, was officially launched last week and is planned to last five years. The initiative is poised to avoid millions of clinical failures and tens of millions of unnecessary prescriptions of antibiotics every year, in Africa and perhaps one day in Europe.

The algorithm the scientists are studying will be used to develop new mobile tools that will improve the identification of children suffering from a serious illness requiring immediate treatment, and therefore reducing mortality. Through the project, electronic diagnostic and treatment tools will be deployed.

Researchers in the project are optimistic that the outcome of the study will be effective tools that help clinicians to manage febrile children more effectively. What we already know about febrile children Each year, around 3.3 million children die from acute febrile episodes worldwide, especially in countries with low-resources.

The lack of diagnostic tools and clinical guidance to front-line health workers strongly contribute to this situation, and leads at the same time to unnecessary antimicrobials prescribed to “be on the safe side”. Around nine in every ten children attending primary health care establishments in Tanzania receive an antibiotic, although only one in ten really need it. This over-prescription is a major factor in antibiotic resistance, which is one of the world’s most serious health problems and a major healthcare challenge. Moreover, when an epidemic breaks out, young children are the first victims of resistant infections which can no longer be tackled using first line antibiotics and contribute in turn to this high mortality.