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Journal of Tropical Medicine
Volume 2018, Article ID 6987435, 11 pages
Research Article

Understanding Unlicensed Drug Vendor Practices Related to Childhood Malaria in One Rural District of Uganda: An Exploratory Study

1School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, 2206 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z3
2Child Health and Development Centre, School of Medicine, Makerere University, P.O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda

Correspondence should be addressed to Rosemin Kassam; ac.cbu@massak.nimesor

Received 26 July 2017; Accepted 16 January 2018; Published 12 February 2018

Academic Editor: Ahmad R. Ghazali

Copyright © 2018 Eric Liow et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study investigated unlicensed drug outlets’ practices for the management of malaria in the rural district of Butaleja, Uganda. A qualitative design using semistructured interviews was used. Interviews were recorded, translated, transcribed, and analyzed using thematic analysis. A total of 75 vendors, representing 85% of the outlets in the study area, were interviewed. Most of the vendors were associated with a drug shop type of outfit. About three-quarters reported having completed some level of postsecondary education, but just one-tenth of the vendors had qualifications that made them eligible to apply for a license to operate a drug shop. While most outlets stocked at least one type of antimalarial, only about one-quarter stocked an artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), one-quarter expressed a preference for ACTs, and less than one-tenth attested to firmly adhering to the national malaria treatment guidelines on dispensing ACTs as the first-line option. In contrast, nine out of 10 vendors stocked quinine and well over a third stocked antimalarials no longer recommended, such as chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine. Given the ongoing gap between the national malaria policy and unlicensed drug outlet practices, this study calls for greater engagement of unlicensed vendors to improve the management of childhood malaria.