Introduction: There are increasing concerns with growing rates of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) across Africa, including in Zambia, enhanced by inappropriate utilization of antibiotics across the sectors. There is a need in hospitals to document current prescribing patterns via point prevalence surveys (PPS) alongside recognized indicators to improve future use. The findings can subsequently be used to develop and instigate appropriate antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) to improve the quality of future antimicrobial prescribing across Zambia. This includes encouraging the prescribing of ‘Access’ over ‘Watch’ and ‘Reserve’ antibiotics where pertinent. Methods: A PPS was undertaken using the WHO methodology among 10 first- and second-level public hospitals across the 10 provinces of Zambia. A sampling process was used to select the hospitals. Results: The prevalence of antibiotic use among the in-patients was 307/520 (59.0%), with a high rate of empiric prescribing of ceftriaxone at 36.1% of all antibiotics prescribed (193/534). The reason for antibiotic use was recorded in only 15.7% of occasions and directed treatment prescribed in only 3.0% of occasions. Compliance with the national standard treatment guidelines (STGs) was also low at only 27.0% of occasions. Conclusion: High empiric prescribing, limited documentation of the rationale behind antibiotic prescribing, high use of ‘Watch’ antibiotics, and limited compliance to STGs among surveyed hospitals requires the urgent instigation of ASPs across Zambia to improve future prescribing.
- AWaRe classification
- antibiotic use
- antimicrobial stewardship programmes
- point prevalence survey
- quality indicators