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Soc Sci Med. 1994 Sep;39(6):797-806.

Reported and actual prescription of oral rehydration therapy for childhood diarrhoeas by retail pharmacists in Nigeria.

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Department of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria.


This study documented what retail pharmacists and operators of patent medicine shops prescribe for childhood diarrhoeas in Borno State in the northeastern part of Nigeria. Data was generated by a combination of open and confederates survey of 135 pharmacies and patent medicine shops in the state. The study found that retail pharmacies and patent medicine shop operators, in the overwhelming majority routinely prescribe drugs, particularly, antibiotics, for both watery and bloody diarrhoea. Very few of the pharmacists and almost none of the patent medicine shop operators prescribed any form of oral rehydration therapy (ORT) for watery diarrhoea. There was very high discrepancy between what respondents told interviewers they usually prescribe and what was actually prescribed to confederates in their facilities. It is suggested that the non-prescription of ORT by the majority of facilities could be accounted for by pharmacists' permissive attitude to the norms. This permissive attitude was generated by the profit motive and reinforced by mothers' expectations. The study conclude that more operators can be made to prescribe ORT by instituting incentives for those who prescribe and overt sanctions for those who do not.

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