A study on the use of antibiotics among female senior high school (SHS) students has recommended more awareness of the harmful effects of antibiotics abuse.
The study, conducted by the Ghana Young Academy, was aimed at exploring the antibiotic knowledge gap among female SHS students in Ghana, help correct misconceptions and raise awareness through education.
Results of the study, which were made available to the Daily Graphic, recommended that extensive education on antibiotic use among teenagers should help improve antibiotic awareness and promote responsible use.
The release of the results coincided with the celebration of World Antibiotics Awareness Week, which is globally marked between November12 – 18.
The recent rise in anti-microbial resistance (AMR) globally jeopardises current and future prevention and treatment of common infections.
Questionnaires were administered to 328 female students aged between 14 and 21 years in 12 SHSs in the Northern, Ashanti and Greater Accra regions.
The results indicated that 79.5 per cent of respondents had used antibiotics within the past year.
It also revealed that even though majority, representing 34.76 per cent, had used antibiotics once within the year, 27.74 per cent had used antibiotics monthly, something the study described as alarming.
The study also found that only 37.20 per cent of respondents could list the antibiotics they had used.
“Of the listed antibiotics, amoxicillin and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid combination were the most used antibiotics.
Penicillin was least used,” it indicated.
With regard to the uses of the antibiotics, the study said the most common condition for antibiotic use was colds/flu/cough, while vaginal infections were the third most common condition treated, behind diarrhoea.
“The rampant use of antibiotics for the treatment of common colds is alarming, as colds are caused by viruses which do not respond to antibiotics. This constitutes misuse of antibiotics,” the study explained.
Most respondents (47.87%) said they used antibiotics on the recommendation of health professionals but 32.62 per cent took their recommendations from parents who were not necessarily health workers.
“Only 51.83 per cent of respondents were aware that failure to complete a dose of antibiotics could lead to antibiotic resistance, while 61 per cent of the students agreed that unused antibiotics should not be passed on but properly disposed of,” it said.
The Ghana Young Academy, in collaboration with the Africa Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens, set out to investigate the knowledge and pattern of use of antibiotics among the targeted population for the management of vaginal infections.