Current Antibiotic Use Among Hospitals in the sub-Saharan Africa Region; Findings and Implications

Linda Siachalinga*, Brian Godman, Julius C. Mwita, Israel Abebrese Sefah, Olayinka O. Ogunleye, Amos Massele, Iyn Hyang Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The rapid rise in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) globally, impacting on morbidity, mortality and costs with sub-Saharan African countries reporting the greatest burden is a concern. Instigation of antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) can improve antibiotic use in hospitals and reduce AMR. Implementing ASPs requires knowledge of antibiotic utilization against agreed quality indicators with the data obtained from point prevalence surveys (PPS), hence the need to document antibiotic utilization patterns in sub-Saharan Africa. Methods: A narrative review to document current utilization patterns, challenges, indicators and ASPs across sub-Saharan Africa based on previous reviews by the authors, supplemented by the considerable knowledge and experience of the co-authors. Results: Results from multiple PPS studies showed a high prevalence of antibiotic use among hospitals, mostly over 50%. Prevalence rates ranged from as low as 37.7% in South Africa to as high as 80.1% in Nigeria. There was also considerable prescribing of broad-spectrum antibiotics which could be due to lack of facilities within hospitals, alongside concerns with co-payments to perform microbiological tests, resulting in empiric prescribing. This is a concern alongside lack of guidelines or adherence to guidelines, which was as low as 4% in one study. Another concern was the high rates of extended prophylaxis to prevent surgical site infections (SSIs), with antibiotics often prescribed for longer than 24 hours, usually multiple doses. Several quality indicators have been used to evaluate antibiotic utilization providing exemplars for the future. Among the initiatives being instigated to improve antibiotic use, ASPs have proved effective. For ASPs to be successful objectives and indicators must be agreed, and regular audits undertaken. Conclusion: Antibiotic prescribing across Africa is characterised by high prevalence, usually empirical. Various prescribing and quality indicators are being employed to assess antibiotic use, and ASPs have shown to improve antibiotic prescribing providing direction to reduce AMR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2179-2190
Number of pages12
JournalInfection and Drug Resistance
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • antibiotic use
  • antimicrobial stewardship programs
  • point prevalence surveys
  • quality indicators
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • surgical site infections


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