Perceptions and Practiceson Household Disposal Patterns of Unused Medicines in South C Area of Nairobi City County
As access to medicines increase, bulks of medicines become unused and are kept at home. Unsafe drug disposal can have a direct negative impact on public safety, the environment, and the health care services. The responsibility of minimizing the potential health risks associated with unused medicines should not end at the point of sale, but continue to the end of medicine’s life-cycle, i.e., from production, sale, consumption and disposal. Consumer perceptions regarding how medicines are stored and disposed therefore becomes paramount. The general objective of the study was to explore households’ perceptions and practices of disposal patterns of unused medicines in South C area, Nairobi City County. A sample population of 164 households were utilized in this study. While the study was exploratory-descriptive in nature, quantitative data collection methods, through semi-structured interviews were conducted to provide insights into the households’ perceptions and practices of disposal patterns of unused medicines. Unstructured interviews were done with key informed people, experts and professionals who had adequate knowledge on the household disposal patterns of unused medicines. Both quantitative and qualitative data analysis were used to derive simple summaries on the observations that were made. The study found that 96% of the respondents do not receive adequate information from healthcare providers related to safe disposal of unused medicines and did not read or follow unused medicines disposal instructions. Lack of structured awareness creation on safe disposal practices of unused medicines (51.2%) and economic reasons (39.6%) featured as the main contributory factors to unsafe disposal practices of unused medicines amongst the respondents. However, 73.78% of respondents were willing to safely dispose of unused medicines if community outreach and take back programs were put in place and when hospitals/ pharmacies voluntarily provided safe disposal practices information. The study further revealed that even though 64% of respondents strongly agreed that unused medicines present potential risks and or negative consequences at home and that children are more at danger when exposed to unused medicines, 84.76% of the respondents still opted to keep unused medicines at homes. The dining wall unit (30%) and bedroom cabinet (20%) emerged as the preferred storage locations of unused medicines at homes. Knowingly keeping unused medicines with an intention to share with other family members in case of need (76.83%) and stopping the dosage once they get better (62.80%) featured as the prominent factors that influence respondents decisions to keep medicines at home. Further, the study found out that for those who dispose unused medicines, the predominant disposal practice was throwing in garbage bins, flushing in toilets and disposing in kitchen and hand wash sinks.. These findings raise concerns about how unused medications are stored and disposed by households. It is therefore recommended that a coordinated and systematic public awareness campaigns be initiated by healthcare stakeholders to address the negative and health risks of unused medicines; to promote safe disposal practices of unused medicines; and to set robust institutional and regulatory frameworks to oversee information sharing on safe disposal practices. While the study sample was homogenous, further research should be initiated to cover household knowledge and disposal patterns of unused medicines in rural areas and academic institutions such as boarding schools and universities. Another area that is worth being studied is the common types of household unused medicines, abuse of unused medicines and cases of accidental poisoning by unused medicines.
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