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Trypanocidal drugs have been used to control African animal trypanosomosis for several decades. In Ethiopia, these drugs are available from both authorized (legal) and unauthorized (illegal) sources but documentation on utilization practices and quality of circulating products is scanty. This study looked at the practices of trypanocidal drug utilization by farmers and the integrity of active ingredient in trypanocides sold in Gurage zone, south western Ethiopia. The surveys were based on a structured questionnaire and drug quality determination of commonly used brands originating from European and Asian companies and sold at both authorized and unauthorized markets. One hundred farmers were interviewed and 50 drug samples were collected in 2013 (Diminazene aceturate = 33 and Isometamidium chloride = 17; 25 from authorized and 25 from unauthorized sources). Samples were tested at the OIE-certified Veterinary Drug Control Laboratory (LACOMEV) in Dakar, Senegal, by using galenic standards and high performance liquid chromatography.
Trypanosomosis was found to be a major threat according to all interviewed livestock keepers in the study area. Diminazene aceturate and isometamidium chloride were preferred by 79% and 21% of the respondents respectively, and 85% of them indicated that an animal receives more than six treatments per year. About 60% of these treatments were reported to be administered by untrained farmers. Trypanocidal drug sources included both unauthorized outlets (56%) and authorized government and private sources (44%). A wide availability and usage of substandard quality drugs was revealed. Twenty eight percent of trypanocidal drugs tested failed to comply with quality requirements. There was no significant difference in the frequency of non-compliance between diminazene-based and isometamidium chloride products (P = 0.87) irrespective of the marketing channel (official and unofficial). However, higher rates of non-compliant trypanocides were detected for drugs originating from Asia than from Europe (P = 0.029).
The findings revealed the presence of risk factors for the development of drug resistance, i.e. wide distribution of poor quality drugs as well as substandard administration practices. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to enforce regulatory measures for quality control of veterinary drugs, to expand and strengthen veterinary services and to undertake trypanocidal drug efficacy studies of wider coverage.