No prescription? No problem

Feeling sick and have no time to go to a doctor? Just pop by your neighbourhood pharmacy and nine times out of 10 you’ll be sold the medicine for what may (or may not) ail you. Youth Initiatives Tanzania (YITA), in association with Twaweza, investigated whether pharmacies in Dar es Salaam observe regulations regarding sales to consumers. ‘Mystery clients’ made 126 visits to 64 pharmacies across the city, and discovered that almost all flout the rules set down by the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority.

In 93 percent of 88 visits, prescription medicine was sold without a prescription when asked for by name. In 92 percent of 38 visits, prescription medicines were recommended and then sold after the mystery client described her symptoms. In only nine visits of 126 did pharmacies refuse to sell medicine without a prescription from a doctor, and this in only three of the 15 areas visited.  

The results are disconcerting, as citizens could be sold wrong medicines, take incorrect dosages, or develop a dependency on a drug. Yet, in the absence of sufficent and motivated personnel as well as persistent shortages of drugs in the public health services one can see how people have no choice but to seek care directly from pharmacies.

Read the brief below in English or Kiswahili as well as media reports on the findings.

Ease of buying prescription drugs exposed in new report, The Citizen

Checks on pharmacies, The Citizen

The pharmaceutical and motorcar trade, The Citizen

Dawa zinauzwa kiholela - YITA, Tanzania Daima

Read more: citizen monitoring



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