Drug use among children under 5 with respiratory illness and/or diarrhoea in a rural district of Vietnam

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To describe the pattern of drug use among the children with respiratory illnesses and/or diarrhoea; and to analyze the association between various socio-economic factors and pattern of drug use.


A population-based survey of 4087 children under five was conducted within the framework of an epidemiological surveillance site in a rural district of Vietnam. Through interviewing mothers or caretakers, data on self-reported illness, use of drugs, and use of health services during 2 weeks prior to the survey and other background information were collected.


Out of 4087 children, 1836 children had respiratory illness and/or diarrhoea during 2 weeks before the interview and drugs were used in the majority of cases. Antibiotics (72.2%) and analgesics/antipyretics (53.5%) were the drugs most commonly reported. Corticosteroids were used in 11.6% of all cases. Among children with diarrhoea, Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) was used in 9.7%, while anti-diarrhoea drugs were used in 36.1% of all cases. There was a significant association between the family's socio-economic condition and use of corticosteroids, but to a lesser degree regarding other drugs. There was no significant association between pattern of drug use and type of health service consulted.


There are major problems about irrational drug use among children. The treatment guidelines for respiratory illness and diarrhoea are not followed. Urgent actions are needed and should target all actors in the field, mothers, doctors, pharmacy staff, and authorities in order to improve this situation. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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