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RESEARCH has shown that antibiotics are typically over-prescribed in many Western countries – leading to drug-resistant and often deadly superbugs – but not nearly enough is known about the situation in Africa.

DRUG TRENDS … Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Pharmacy Professor Ilse Truter helped to establish the Medicines Utilisation Research in Africa (MURIA) group.

To fill in the blanks, the pioneering Medicines Utilisation Research in Africa (MURIA) group has been established. Its role is to monitor and compare antibiotics and other drug use trends from country to country across the continent and, through training, research and information sharing, improve the quality of medicine use and, in so doing, the quality of patients’ lives.

“We’re not exclusively looking at antibiotics, but we are looking to address common problems [related to medicine utilisation] in all the countries,” said Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Pharmacy Professor Ilse Truter, who heads up NMMU’s Drug Utilisation Research Unit (DURU) and represents one of the three South African universities instrumental in establishing MURIA. The other two were North-West University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

MURIA is collaborating with Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, based at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, which will be comparing African drug use trends with other countries globally.

The group is also investigating the perceptions of health care workers regarding the overprescribing of antibiotics. MURIA includes medical doctors, pharmacists, statisticians and pure scientists from a broad spectrum of African countries, thus far including South Africa, Nigeria, Malawi, Kenya, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho, but growing constantly.

Participating universities to date include the universities of Botswana, Namibia and Nairobi (Kenya) and, from Nigeria, Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital and Lagos State University College of Medicine and Teaching Hospital.

“MURIA is an open group for researchers to build capacity in Africa for drug utilisation studies ... There are a few researchers in Africa but not nearly enough,” said Truter.

“Health systems in Africa differ from country to country. We want know what is happening in our neighbouring countries.”

Contact information
Prof Ilse Truter
Professor in Pharmacy & Leader of DURU
Tel: 27 41 5042131