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Pharmaceutical services for endemic situations in the Brazilian Amazon: organization of services and prescribing practices for Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum non-complicated malaria in high-risk municipalities

Martha C Suárez-Mutis1*, Paula P de Souza2, Letícia F Freitas2, Elaine S Miranda3, Mônica R Campos4 and Claudia GS Osorio-de-Castro2

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratório de Doenças Parasitárias, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Av. Brasil 4365, Pavilhão Arthur Neiva, sala 21-B, CEP - 21040-900, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2 Núcleo de Assistência Farmacêutica, Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sérgio Arouca, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3 Departamento de Farmácia e Administração Farmacêutica, Faculdade de Farmácia, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

4 Departamento de Ciências Sociais, Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sérgio Arouca, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Malaria Journal 2011, 10:335  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-335

Published: 3 November 2011



In spite of the fact that pharmaceutical services are an essential component of all malaria programmes, quality of these services has been little explored in the literature. This study presents the first results of the application of an evaluation model of pharmaceutical services in high-risk municipalities of the Amazon region, focusing on indicators regarding organization of services and prescribing according to national guidelines.


A theoretical framework of pharmaceutical services for non-complicated malaria was built based on the Rapid Evaluation Method (WHO). The framework included organization of services and prescribing, among other activities. The study was carried out in 15 primary health facilities in six high-risk municipalities of the Brazilian Amazon. Malaria individuals ≥ 15 years old were approached and data was collected using specific instruments. Data was checked by independent reviewers and fed to a data bank through double-entry. Descriptive variables were analyzed.


A copy of the official treatment guideline was found in 80% of the facilities; 67% presented an environment for receiving and prescribing patients. Re-supply of stocks followed a different timeline; no facilities adhered to forecasting methods for stock management. No shortages or expired anti-malarials were observed, but overstock was a common finding. On 86.7% of facilities, the average of good storage practices was 48%. Time between diagnosis and treatment was zero days. Of 601 patients interviewed, 453 were diagnosed for Plasmodium vivax; of these, 99.3% received indications for the first-line scheme. Different therapeutic schemes were given to Plasmodium falciparum patients. Twenty-eight (4.6%) out of 601 were prescribed regimens not listed in the national guideline. Only 5.7% individuals received a prescription or a written instruction of any kind.


The results show that while diagnostic procedure is well established and functioning in the Brazilian malaria programme, prescribing is still an activity that is actually not performed. The absence of physicians and poor integration between malaria services and primary health services make for the lack of a prescription or written instruction for malaria patients throughout the Brazilian Amazon. This fact may lead to a great number of problems in rational use and in adherence to medication.