Self-medication practices of pregnant women attending antenatal clinic in northern Ghana: An analytical cross-sectional study

Sina Adama, Lauren J Wallace, Joshua Arthur, Sandra Kwakye, Philip B. Adongo


In Ghana, despite the dangers that self-medication poses to maternal and fetal health, there has been limited examination of self-medication among pregnant women. This study examines the practice of self-medication among pregnant women in Wa Municipality, Ghana. An analytical cross-sectional survey of 367 pregnant women was conducted in three health facilities.  The prevalence of self-medication practice was 74.1%. The majority (68.4%) of pregnant women obtained unprescribed medicines from chemical shops; others utilized leftover drugs from previous hospital visits (15.8%) or herbal medications (9.9%), while others took unprescribed drugs from relatives or friends (5.9%). Analgesics (76.1%), antibiotics (24.6%), and antimalarials (16.2%) were the most frequently self-medicated drugs. The most common illnesses or symptoms for which pregnant women self-medicated were headaches (34.2%), back pain (33.1%), waist pain (32.7%), lower abdominal pain (20.6%), and malaria (16.2%). After adjusting for potential confounders, easy access to medication without prescription (AOR= 8.4), illness perceived as minor (AOR=4.1), availability of health facilities (AOR=4.2), and frequent lack of medicines at health facilities (AOR=1.7) were significantly associated with self-medication. Enforcing legislation to prevent the stocking and sale of certain analgesics and antibiotics, increasing service points, and improving service quality at antenatal clinics, outpatient departments and pharmacies could reduce self-medication. (Afr J Reprod Health 2021; 25[4]: 89-98).

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