This study aimed to determine the profile and availability of policies and guidelines as reference documents at Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities in Gaborone and its surrounding in Botswana using the World Health Organisation/Drug Action programme (WHO/DAP) Questionnaire. The Questionnaire is a standard recommended by WHO and therefore was not piloted. All 20 PHC facilities were included in the study, however, data from 18 clinics was collected and analysed. The Matron from each PHC facility was asked to name and produce as evidence, guidelines and policy documents available as reference in his/her PHC facility. Data was entered in an Excel spread sheet and percentages, averages and frequencies were used to describe the profile and availability of the documents at each facility. Fifty two different documents were available at the facilities, 50% of them were on treatment and management of diseases. The remaining 50% were distributed between general information/policy, Ante-Natal Clinic, obstetrics and gynaecological care, and family planning. Except for guidelines for treating sexually transmitted diseases (86%), availability of the other guidelines and policy documents was low (56%) or less. Policy and guideline reference information for disease immunisation and prevention were available at 4 and 13% PHC, respectively. This low availability of such important instruments may be compromising patient care in the studied PHC facilities and should be addressed. While the Ministry of Health has produced many policy documents and guidelines as reference documents for PHC providers, none of the clinics had all the documents, raising questions on what is available at the facilities as reference and guide in the prescription practices. It is recommended that ministries of health and PHC workers should ensure that necessary reference documents are available at the facilities and staff should be trained and retrained on the use of such documents.
Key words: Rational drug use, general policy documents, medical guidelines, benefits of the guidelines, health facilities.
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