Background: Self-treatment is recognized as one of the global public health issues. Geographical distance, constrained financial resources, and lack of awareness are the main barriers for people in remote areas to access health care. Self-treatment may also have risky consequences such as side effects and antibiotic resistance. It is assumed that the rate of self-treatment is high in the unreachable hilly tribal areas because of the geographical factor.
Aim and Objective: The primary objective of the present study is to find out the prevalence and reason of self-medication, and the sources of drug information. The secondary objective is to assess the awareness of routine medical check-up among the tribal population of the hilly areas of the Koraput district of Odisha.
Materials and Methods: A retrospective study was conducted after receiving clearance from the Institutional Ethical Committee, SLN MCH, Koraput. The study was conducted from February 2022 in some hilly villages near Koraput, which is a typical mountainous commune with the terrain divided by many mountains. Simple random sampling was done using computer software for selecting participants (sample size: 200). The participants were contacted and our interviewer visited door-to-door for face-to-face interviews. The research team developed a structured questionnaire to use in the face-to-face interviews. The questionnaire included questions about demographic characteristics, access to medical facilities, frequency of routine medical check-ups in the past 12 months, health information sources, and distance to the nearest health facility. A series of questions regarding self-treatment practices were also asked: Whether they had purchased any medication without prescription in the past 3 months, what the symptoms were, and what kind of medicines they bought, and the reasons they bought the medicines on their own.
Results: The study found that prevalence of self-medication was 92 (46%, C.I. 95%). The majority of residents had self-medication when they suffered from common cold and cough (16% of participants), fever (8%), diarrhea (6%), body pain or myalgia (8%), and allergy (2%). The most prevalent groups of drugs used were antipyretics such as paracetamol (36%), antibiotics (30%), antihistamines (14%), and analgesics such as diclofenac and nimesulide (26%). The most common reason for choosing a local practitioner or private pharmacist and health worker was the subjects’ proximity to them. Of the self-medicated population in our study, 62% procured medicines from local practitioners, chemists, or health workers residing in their villages or nearby villages.
Conclusion: Rational use of drugs requires that patients receive medications appropriate to their clinical needs, in doses that meet their own individual requirements for an adequate period of time and at the lowest cost to them and their community. Self-medication unfortunately does not follow the standard, scientific, and rational criteria. Due to self-medication quality of medicine, scientific, and rational procurement, rational prescription is always questionable.
Key words: Self-Medication; Routine Medical Check-Up; Antibiotic Resistance; Over-the-Counter; Adverse Drug Reaction