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Background: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are of public health importance in Nigeria. Timely interventions could alleviate STI-associated symptoms, and delay transmission. This study investigated how Community Pharmacists responded to complaints of STI-associated symptoms and explored factors that hinder these efffforts.
Methods: A cross-sectional, descriptive study was carried out among 48 Community Pharmacists in Surulere Local Government Area of Lagos. Data were collected using a pretested self-administered, semi-structured questionnaire that comprised demographic characteristics of the pharmacists and the patients, STI symptoms, and services provided by the community pharmacists. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to summarize the data using SPSS version 20.0. AP-value of <0.05 was considered signifificant.
Results: More than half of the Community Pharmacists (58.3%) were females, with 56.3 % having < 5years of practice experience. An average of 10 patients presented to the pharmacies daily with STI associated symptoms. Most patients (97.9%) were aged 18 to 49 years, and are mainly females (70.8%). The most common STI-associated complaints in females were vaginal discharge (93.8%) and urethral discharge (70%) in men. On any STI-related visit, the pharmacist elicited information on the history of present symptoms (92%), medications taken before the pharmacies' visit (88%), onset and duration of symptoms (85%). They suggested medications (94%), counseled patients on medication use (89%), offffered preventive care (Condom use (83.3%); abstinence (31.3%), and referred patients to hospital (79%). Un-resolving symptoms (86.8%) were the main reason for referrals. The Pharmacists failed to confifirm patients' identities and did not follow up with the patients in 45.8% of the visits. They suggested metronidazole (89.6%) most, followed by Azithromycin (85% and Ciproflfloxacin (79%). Patients' reluctance to open up was the main obstacle to the provision of STI management services in the community.
Conclusion: Community pharmacists provided a wide range of STI management services of which treatment, medication counseling, and preventive care are the most common. There is a need for pharmacists to improve on referrals and follow-ups to ensure continuity in care.
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