Mobile Phones for Monitoring Drug Safety in Rural Ghana

Vida Ami Kukula from Dodowa Health Research Centre, Accra, Ghana, shares her poster presentation from the recently concluded American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Conference.

dscn6402sm.jpgThe influx of antimalarial drugs remains a great concern for health care providers and regulatory bodies. Monitoring the safety of antimalarial drugs at the community level possess a challenge to effective pharmacovigillance. Though, spontaneous reporting of events has been the easiest way of monitoring drug safety; these reports are not as expected. This method also has shortfall because only few patients report. Cohort event monitoring (CEM) is a more effective way of monitoring as visiting people in their homes is expensive.

The use of mobile phone calls to patients prescribed an antimalarial has not been adequately explored. This paper investigates how mobile phone calls can be used to monitor antimalarial safety in rural Dangme West District. CEM of patients with uncomplicated malaria prescribed an antimalarial from seventeen health providers were enrolled and followed by trained field workers.

A pre- treatment form was administered, patient information such as prior medications taken were recorded. Phone numbers of patients including home addresses was documented. Patients were informed and followed up by phone call or visited at home for patients without phones.

dodowa-logo-sm.jpgFollow ups were made from day three when they were expected to complete their antimalarial, however patients who experienced new events before day three were visited before their scheduled visit date. Post treatment form recorded new events patients experienced after taking the anti- malarial, and any other drug taken during the three days of the antimalarial treatment.

4165 patients were enrolled onto the study, 4144 cohorts were followed. 2630 (63.5%) were successfully interviewed on phone and 1514 (36.5%) by visits. Each call interview lasted an average of 4 minutes. It was observed that patients appreciated the calls made to check on their health.

In conclusion, mobile phone use increased access to cohort members followed up for drug safety monitoring. The use of mobile phones in future clinical monitoring activities is recommended. More studies should be conducted to confirm these findings.

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