Rational Use of Medicines in Nigeria: A Critical Review

John Alfa, Obi Peter Adigwe


Irrational use of medicines is capable of not only limiting access to medicine within a national healthcare system, it can also lead to a waste of scarce resources. In Nigeria, a number of studies exist that have explored rational use of medicines (RUM) in various settings and different conditions. Collectively however, little known is about these studies’ knowledge gaps and areas of concentration.

A literature search was carried out in five major databases. Other aspects of the search strategy included scanning of conference abstracts, reference list searching and citation indexing. Articles selected using predetermined criteria were included in the bibliometric review and critical analysis.

Majority of RUM studies in Nigeria had been undertaken in the south-western region (52.6%), whereas the north-eastern and north-western regions had the least (7.0% and 3.5% respectively). A significant proportion of RUM studies were carried out in hospital settings (77.0%) neglecting other settings such as community pharmacies where only a small proportion of studies had been carried out (4.1%). Major themes that emerged from the review included hypertension, malaria and prescribing patterns, including the use of antibiotics.

Major gaps exist in RUM research in Nigeria. To improve this, stakeholders need to adopt a proactive strategy that includes addressing the gaps identified in this study, as well as instituting other relevant measures, such as developing relevant guideline and training practitioners outlined by the World Health Organisation.

Keywords: Nigeria; Rational use of Medicines; Critical Review; Policy

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