Self-medication practices among pregnant women in Ejisu-Juaben Municipality

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Reducing maternal mortality is key to achieving the Millenium Development Goals in Ghana. However, self-medication is one of several health seeking behaviours that threatens the life of pregnant women and undermine the achievement of improved maternal health. Though self-medication in general has received research attention, not much is known about the reasons that prompt pregnant women to self-medicate and the disease conditions for which self-medicated drugs are used to treat. This research explored the phenomenon of self-medication among pregnant women in Ejisu Juaben municipal, in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Using a questionnaire survey, 300 pregnant women were interviewed on the factors that cause them to self-medicate, the disease conditions treated with self-medication, the most commonly self-medicated drugs, and their knowledge of the potential effects of self-medication. The research revealed that self-medication was high among respondents (68.3%), even though most respondents (77.7%) remained informed of the potentially negative effects on the mother and the foetus. Perceived non-seriousness of disease conditions (37.3%), familiarity with certain drugs (22.8%), low cost of self-medicated drugs (25.1%) and dissatisfaction with health service delivery (11.5%) were some of the main factors that predisposed respondents to self-medicate. This research also found that headaches (44.8%), cold and flu (17.7%), stomach problems (14.2%) and body pains (10.9%) were the most commonly treated disease conditions, often treated with analgesics (46.4%), herbal drugs (23.5%), antibiotics (18.4%), and antacids (11.6%). Based on these findings, the research concludes by recommending that government intervention programs should go beyond pregnant women and target family members and relatives, since they are influential as trusted sources of drugs, and drug information. In addition, this research recommends that the government of Ghana initiate a mobile health delivery system for self-employed pregnant women, which will target these pregnant women at their work places and through that reduce the reluctance and inconvenience that these pregnant women experience in seeking professional health services
A thesis submitted to The School of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion and Education, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of a Master of Science.