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Trop Med Int Health. 2008 Mar;13(3):434-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2008.02019.x.

Antibiotic use and health-seeking behaviour in an underprivileged area of PerĂº.

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  • 1Department of Public Health Science, Division of International Health (IHCAR), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



To describe the health-seeking behaviour and use of antibiotics in the urban community of Yurimaguas in the Amazonian area of Peru.


Cross-sectional survey of caregivers of 798 children aged 6-72 months by interview using a semi-structured questionnaire. Reported symptoms were classified as illnesses where antibiotics would or would not be recommended based on principles of the integrated management of childhood illnesses algorithm.


Forty-one per cent of consultations were with health care professionals; 71% of antibiotics were obtained through the formal public health sector and prescribed mainly by medical doctors. All prescribed antibiotics were on the Peruvian essential drugs list. When prescribing, doctors and nurses hardly discriminated between illnesses where antibiotic treatment was or was not indicated; there was no significant difference in antibiotic prescribing rates between the two (doctors, P = 0.24; nurses, P = 0.32). Not all caregivers sought help for children with severe symptoms.


Although most of the antibiotics were prescribed by doctors and nurses, they were commonly prescribed for illnesses where they were not indicated. The use of antibiotics needs to be rationalized, and barriers to health care must be overcome.

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