Background: The outbreak of coronavirus disease-2019 is putting a massive strain on vulnerable healthcare system in low and middle-income countries like Bangladesh. Inequitable access to healthcare is further widened by the socio-economic gap and sense of insecurity during this pandemic. Self-medication is a common practice in Bangladesh as it provides a low-cost alternative for people, which involves inappropriate and injudicious use of medicines to treat self-recognized symptoms by the people. During the outbreak of COVID-19 in Dhaka city, the tendency of taking medicines by own decision was thought to be increased alarmingly due to unusual distress, caused by high self-awareness of their health and buying capacity of medication.
Objectives: To observe the prevalence, pattern, sources and impact of self-medication practice among the respondents with high socio-economic standings and education.
Setting: Citizens living in Dhaka city, Bangladesh during COVID-19 outbreak from April 2020 to May 2020.
Method: Cross sectional online survey conducted on 626 citizens without having background of medical knowledge or related to any healthcare services (doctors, nurses, pharmacist, medical students) by structured questionnaires during COVID-19 outbreak.
Outcome measures: Frequency of self-medication, commonly used antimicrobial agents, symptoms causing self-medication, sources of inspiration, relation with COVID-19 test results, economic burden involved in self-medication during outbreak.
Results: The prevalence of self-medication amid the outbreak of COVID-19 was 88.33% and only 179 (28.59%) took medication with doctors’ advice and remaining 447 (71.40%) respondents took the drugs as “self-medication” by other sources. The most frequently used anti-infective drugs during the outbreak were ivermectine (77.15%), azithromycin (54.15%), doxycycline (40.25%). The common symptoms were fever, throat pain, dry-cough and total 105 (16.77%) respondents took medications without having any symptoms. Almost 355 (85.33%) had taken medication without doing any test for COVID-19. The causes of self-medication as news of spread, effects and remedies in media channels, internet; mental stress of lockdown and isolation, insecurity and panic about scarcity of drug and healthcare support.
Conclusion: High risks of developing antibiotic resistance, adverse drug reactions and financial loss was predictable with absence of strict regulatory enforcement to protect people and proper utilization resources during COVID-19 outbreak in Dhaka city.