Alignment of standard treatment guidelines with medicine use indicators in a limited-resource setting: findings and implications

Harriet Rachel Kagoya, Timothy William Rennie, Dan Kibuule, Honoré Kabwebwe Mitonga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Background: Standard treatment guidelines (STGs) are a critical public health tool for promoting rational use of medicines. No studies have evaluated alignment of STGs with medicine use indicators especially in low and-middle-income countries (LMICs) with disproportionate burden of disease and irrational medicine use. Objective: To determine the level of alignment of Namibia’s STGs with WHO medicine use indicators. Methods: A descriptive policy analysis of alignment of Namibia’s STGs and WHO medicine use indicators. Thirty-two conditions/diseases prevalent and managed at primary healthcare level were included in the study of alignment of the STGs with two WHO medicine use indicators in terms of average number of medicines/condition (polypharmacy, WHO target <2) and antibiotic prescribing (WHO target <30%) after adjusting for estimated encounters per condition. Data were analyzed using (SPSSv24 software, IBM Corporation, NY) to determine frequencies, percentages and means. Key findings: Of the 32 conditions/diseases studied, 41% had three or more medicines per condition indicated in the STGs. The weighted minimum and maximum average number of medicines/condition/encounter in the STGs were 2.62 and 2.78 respectively. Antibiotics were indicated for 72% (weighted per encounter = 75%) of the 32 conditions. Conditions/diseases of the urogenital system had the highest antibiotics indicated in the STGs (100%); respiratory (80%); ENT (80%); gastrointestinal (33%) before weighting conditions for estimated patient encounters, while ENT conditions had the highest antibiotics (32%) after weighting. Conclusions: Alignment of Namibia STGs and medicine use targets is sub-optimal. The STGs have a high indication of antibiotics and polypharmacy. Misalignment is the main contributor to sub-optimal medicine use indicators with respect to average number of medicines and antibiotics. Countries should review their STGs and align with medicine use indicators to enhance rational medicine use and fight antimicrobial resistance. This article provides guidance for aligning STGs with medicine use indicators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-157
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
Issue number2
Early online date12 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • antimicrobial resistance
  • indicators
  • low-and-middle income countries
  • medicine use
  • standard treatment guidelines (STGs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)


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