“I can make more from selling medicine when breaking the rules” – understanding the antibiotic supply network in a rural community in Viet Nam
Nguyen HH., Ho DP., Vu TLH., Tran KT., Tran TD., Nguyen TKC., van Doorn HR., Nadjm B., Kinsman J., Wertheim H.
Abstract Background As in many other low and middle income countries (LIMCs), Vietnam has experienced a major growth in the pharmaceutical industry, with large numbers of pharmacies and drug stores, and increasing drug expenditure per capita over the past decade. Despite regulatory frameworks that have been introduced to control the dispensing and use of prescription-only drugs, including antibiotics, compliance has been reported to be strikingly low particularly in rural parts of Vietnam. This qualitative study aimed to understand antibiotic access and use practices in the community from both supplier and consumer perspectives in order to support the identification and development of future interventions. Methods This qualitative study was part of a project on community antibiotic access and use (ABACUS) in six LMICs. The focus was Ba Vi district of Hanoi capital city, where we conducted 16 indepth interviews (IDIs) with drug suppliers, and 16 IDIs and 6 focus group discussions (FGDs) with community members. Drug suppliers were sampled based on mapping of all informal and formal antibiotic purchase or dispensing points in the study area. Community members were identified through local networks and relationships with the field collaborators. All IDIs and FGDs were audio-taped, transcribed and analysed using content analysis. Results We identified a large number of antibiotic suppliers in the locality with widespread infringements of regulatory requirements. Established reciprocal relationships between suppliers and consumers in drug transactions were noted, as was the consumers’ trust in the knowledge and services provided by the suppliers. In addition, antibiotic use has become a habitual choice in most illness conditions, driven by both suppliers and consumers. Conclusions This study presents an analysis of the practices of antibiotic access and use in a rural Vietnamese setting. It highlights the interactions between antibiotic suppliers and consumers in the community and identifies possible targets for interventions.