Antibiotic appropriateness at outpatient settings in Ethiopia: the need for an antibiotic stewardship programme

Rahel Belete Abebe, Bezawit Mulat Ayal, Muluken Adela Alemu, Tirsit Ketsela Zeleke


Background: Antibiotics are drugs of natural or synthetic origin used to treat various infections. The practice of excessive and inappropriate antibiotics use is the main global cause of bacterial resistance, which is one of the most serious global public health threats. It is estimated that about 50% of global antibiotic prescriptions are inappropriate. This study assesses the prevalence and pattern of inappropriate prescriptions of antibiotics amongst ambulatory care visits in Ethiopia.

Methods: A facility-based, cross-sectional study with a quantitative approach was conducted amongst randomly selected prescriptions issued for outpatients from May to June 2022 at Debre Markos Specialized Comprehensive Hospital, Northwest Ethiopia. Descriptive statistics, such as frequencies and percentages, were computed. For group comparisons, χ2 and independent sample t-tests were computed. The statistical significance of the association was considered at p<0.05.

Results: A total of 2640 antibiotics were prescribed for patients in the outpatient setting with various bacterial infections via 911 prescriptions, of which 49.5% were non-compliant with the national treatment guideline. Guideline non-compliant prescriptions increased remarkably amongst patients in the outpatient setting diagnosed with community-acquired pneumonia (38.8% versus 30.1%; p=0.006) and peptic ulcer disease (14.9% versus 9%; p=0.006). Moreover, inappropriate prescription was significantly higher amongst patients taking amoxicillin/clavulanic acid (33.2% versus 48.2%; p<0.001) and cephalexin (17.8% versus 24.3%; p=0.016).

Conclusion: Large proportions of antibiotic prescriptions for outpatients were non-compliant with the national treatment guideline, suggesting that prescribers need to give special attention to outpatients whilst ordering antibiotics such as amoxicillin/clavulanic acid and cephalexin. Antibiotic stewardship efforts to optimize outpatient antibiotic prescriptions and reduce the use of potentially inappropriate antibiotics are needed in Ethiopia.

Article Details

Article Type

Original Research



Publication Dates

Accepted: ; Published: .


Abebe RB, Ayal BM, Alemu MA, Zeleke TK. Antibiotic appropriateness at outpatient settings in Ethiopia: the need for an antibiotic stewardship programme. Drugs Context. 2024;13:2023-12-2.

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