75% of patients in SA are prescribed antibiotics for no reason - study

Due to a problem of antimicrobial resistance in South Africa, researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) decided to conduct a study to look into this growing phenomenon.

In order to gather information, undercover patients were sent to 186 private general practitioners and 73 public clinics. The kicker was that these undercover patients were not ill.

The study found that three-quarters of patients sent to doctors and clinics in South Africa were prescribed antibiotics for no reason.

Senior Researcher at the Wits Centre for Health Policy, Duane Blaauw says the unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics is one of the factors that drive the development of antibacterial resistance.

Read: Growing antibiotic-resistant superbugs in South Africa a major concern

Antibiotics are a useful drug. They are the reason people live longer - because we can treat bacterial infections. The problem is when those antibiotics are not used properly, the bacteria develop resistance, they fight back against antibiotics.

Duane Blaauw, Senior Researcher at Wits Centre for Health Policy

The Wits study is the first to document the amount of overprescribing in Primary Health Care.

Blaauw explained to CapeTalk's Refilwe Moloto what really transpired when the undercover patients consulted health professionals.

He says some patients were properly diagnosed but still unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics. Some were not examined, but prescribed antibiotics.

Often doctors and nurses say it is the patient's fault because they demand antibiotics but our field workers were trained never to demand antibiotics so that was not the case.

Duane Blaauw, Senior Researcher at WITS’ Centre for Health Policy

To hear the rest of the conversation, listen below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 75% of patients in SA are prescribed antibiotics for no reason - study


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