Thanks to a new app, a Swiss-Tanzanian research team has succeeded in reducing antibiotic supplies in Tanzania by two-thirds. There were no negative health effects, as one study showed.
With the app, antibiotics were prescribed in 23.2% of consultations, compared to 70.1% where the tool was not used, according to this study published Monday in the journal..
“This is great progress,” study leader Rainer Tan said in an interview with Keystone News Agency-ATS. This epidemiologist conducts research at the Swiss Institute for Tropical and Public Health (Swiss TPH) in Basel and at the University Center for General Medicine and Public Health in Lausanne (Unisanté).
A big problem in Africa
According to Dr. Tan, unnecessary prescriptions of antibiotics are a major problem in Tanzania. Their inappropriate use is the main cause of resistance.
In 2019 alone, antibiotic resistance was responsible for 1.27 million deaths, according to the World Health Organization, with the highest burden in sub-Saharan Africa.
The study found that in Tanzania and other countries with limited resources, more than one in two sick children are prescribed antibiotics. The main reason is the lack of diagnostic tools as well as the lack of training of health workers.
In development for ten years
For about ten years, a partnership between Switzerland and Tanzania has been working on an algorithm called “ePOCT+”. The result is a tablet app that guides healthcare workers through the diagnostic process.
“It tells healthcare workers what questions to ask and what examinations and tests to perform,” explains Rainer Tan. Finally, the application suggests the type of treatment to be prescribed according to WHO guidelines.
The researchers tested the effectiveness of the tool in 40 health facilities in Tanzania. Twenty of them used the app, and 20 did not. Further analysis and improvements to the tool are currently being made.
According to Dr. Tan, such an application could also have a positive impact on antibiotic prescribing in Switzerland. Because here we also prescribe a lot of antibiotics, even if to a lesser extent.
“Music guru. Incurable web practitioner. Thinker. Lifelong zombie junkie. Tv buff. Typical organizer. Evil beer scholar.”