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Patterns of disease presentation and management in Egyptian primary care: findings from a survey of 2458 primary care patient consultations

22 Oct 2013

Background:
The Egyptian government is considering embarking on a new wave of health sector reform. Although primary care is seen as central to the anticipated reforms, little is known about the current morbidity and utilization patterns in Egyptian publicly funded primary care. We conducted this survey study of patient encounters to describe the demographic characteristics of patients attending publicly-funded primary care practices, the relative frequency of conditions encountered in these practices, and the rates of drug prescription, investigation and referral.MethodCross-sectional survey of twelve primary care practices and 2458 patient consultations. Additional secondary data were collected from five of the twelve practices for preventive services provided at these practices i.e. immunizations, family planning and ante-natal care.
Results:
54% of the attendances were for people below the age of twenty, of which 54% were females. In patients above the age of twenty, women accounted for 73% of consultations. Upper respiratory tract infection was the most common reason for encounter, accounting for 24% of the presentations, followed by gastroenteritis (10%), intestinal parasites (5%), and lower respiratory tract infections (5%). Over 97% of patients were prescribed at least one drug, whereas investigation and referral rates were low (15% and 5% respectively). When the analysis was repeated for practices where data on both curative and preventive services were available (5 practices and 2146 consultations), substantial proportions of patients were found to seek care for immunizations (25%), family planning (12%), and ante-natal care (11%).
Conclusion:
Most patients utilizing primary care practices in Egypt seek care for minor and preventive services with relatively few consultations for more serious conditions. There is also a pattern of prescribing drugs to most primary care patients which may reflect over-prescribing by primary care doctors.

Date: 
22 October 2013

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