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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 185-190

Health-Care professionals' knowledge and practice regarding disposal of medicines in primary health-care facilities in South Africa: Impact and implications


1 Department of Public Health Pharmacy and Management, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa
2 Department of Public Health Pharmacy and Management, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa; Department of Pharmacoepidemiology, Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom; Center of Medical and Bio-allied Health Sciences Research, Ajman University, Ajman, United Arab Emirates
3 Department of Public Health Pharmacy and Management, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa; Department of Pharmacoepidemiology, Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom; Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, Hawler Medical University, Erbil, Iraq

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Brian Godman
Department of Public Health Pharmacy and Management, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Ga-Rankuwa, South Africa; Department of Pharmacoepidemiology, Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom; Center of Medical and Bio-allied Health Sciences Research, Ajman University, Ajman, United Arab Emirates

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jrpp.jrpp_84_21

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Objective: Professional nurses, pharmacists, and medical practitioners are responsible for disposing of medicines within health-care facilities. South African regulations stipulate that medicines should not be disposed of through sewage systems because of the potential impact on patients and the environment. Consequently, our objective was to determine knowledge and practices among health-care professionals (HCPs) in South Africa and the information they provide to patients regarding the safe disposal of unused/expired/damaged medicines to provide future guidance with identified concerns. Methods: A descriptive study was conducted among 165 HCPs at 16 primary health-care clinics in two subdistricts of the city of Tshwane in Gauteng Province through self-administered questionnaires. Findings: Only 23.5% of HCPs stated that they participated in destroying medicines within their facilities. More than half (65.1%) also reported that they always counsel patients regarding the safe storage of their medicines in their homes, with 27.9% indicating they counsel patients on the safe disposal of their medicines during consultations. More than half (65.1%) also reported that patients never asked about the disposal of medicines. Of concern is that incineration (31.9%), flushing down the toilet (20.6%), and flushing down the sink (9.9%) were regarded by HCPs as correct disposal methods, while 9.6% stated that they did not know the correct methods. In addition, 71.1% reported never receiving training regarding the safe disposal of medicine. Conclusion: There is an urgent need to educate HCPs regarding appropriate medicine waste disposal in South Africa. This can start with including this topic in the curriculum of HCPs, including pharmacists, and continuing post qualification.


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