oa Central African Journal of Medicine - Use of over-the-counter medications in rural Matabeleland, Zimbabwe: the case for upgrading the dispensing skills of rural storekeepers

Volume 31, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 0008-9176



A free health service is available to a large proportion of the rural population in Zimbabwe. However in this study area it was found that general dealer's stores (stores) sold the equivalent of 52% of the medication units dispensed at adjacent Rural health centres (RHCs). The stores were found to carry a range of drugs that could adequately treat 71% of patients attending RHCs. The availability of medications was significantly greater at the stores; the probability of a medication being out of stock at RHCs was 24,1%, whereas it was only 10,4 %, at the stores. Instructions on the use of over-the-counter medications (OTCs) were found to be incomplete and in a form not comprehensible to most of the client population. The estimated proportion of total income spent on OTCs was found to be small, approximately one percent. It is suggested that the government health service should undertake to train rural storekeepers to enable them to provide a more comprehensive service to OTC clients. This would be a low-cost method of improving an existing system of curative care, which is already popular and widely used by rural people.

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