A national, multicentre web-based point prevalence survey of antimicrobial use in community healthcare centres across South Africa and the implications

Phumzile P. Skosana, Natalie Schellack, Brian Godman*, Amanj Kurdi, Marion Bennie, Danie Kruger, Johanna C. Meyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Up to 90% of antimicrobials globally are prescribed and dispensed in ambulatory care. However, there are considerable gaps regarding the extent and rationale for their use especially in low- and middle-income countries such as South Africa. Point prevalent surveys (PPS) are useful to determine current prescribing patterns, identify targets for quality improvement and evaluate the effectiveness of antimicrobial stewardship programmes (ASPs) within institutions. Consequently, the objective of this study was to undertake a PPS within community healthcare centers (CHCs) in South Africa given their importance to the public healthcare system. The findings will be used to provide guidance on future interventions to improve antimicrobial use in South Africa and wider. Methods: A PPS of antimicrobial consumption was undertaken among patients attending 18 CHCs in South Africa. A web-based application was used to record the utilization data, with utilization assessed against World Health Organization (WHO) and South African guidelines. Results: The overall prevalence of antimicrobial use amongst patients attending the CHCs was 21.5% (420 of 1958 patients). This included one or more antimicrobials per patient. The most frequently prescribed antimicrobials were amoxicillin (32.9%), isoniazide (11.3%) and a combination of rifampicin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide and ethambutol (Rifafour®) (10.5%), with the majority from the WHO Access list of antibiotics. There was high adherence to guidelines (93.4%). The most common indication for antibiotics were ear, nose and throat infections (22.8%), with no culture results recorded in patients’ files. Conclusions: It’s encouraging to see high adherence to South African guidelines when antimicrobials were prescribed, with the majority taken from the WHO Access list. However, there were concerns with appreciable prescribing of antimicrobials for upper respiratory tract infections that are essentially viral in origin, and a lack of microbiological testing. The establishment of ASPs can help address identified concerns through designing and implementing appropriate interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-317
Number of pages12
JournalHospital Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • AWaRe list of antimicrobials
  • Antimicrobials
  • South Africa
  • antimicrobial consumption
  • community healthcare centers
  • point prevalence survey
  • quality targets


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