Antibiotic prescribing practices in community and clinical settings during the COVID-19 pandemic in Nairobi, Kenya


The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted healthcare systems, including antibiotic use practices. We present data on patterns of antibiotic dispensing and use in community and hospital settings respectively in Nairobi, Kenya during the pandemic. We conducted interviews with 243 pharmacies in Nairobi using a standardised questionnaire from November to December 2021. The data collected included demographic characteristics, antibiotic customers, types of antibiotics sold, and antibiotic prescribing practices. Additionally, we retrospectively reviewed health records for 992 and 738 patients admitted in COVID-19 and general wards at two large inpatient hospitals between April 2020 and May 2021, and January 2019 to October 2021, respectively. Demographic, utilisation of laboratory services, treatment, clinical, and outcome data were collected using a modified Global WHO Point Prevalence Surveys (Global-PPS) tool. Almost all pharmacies (91.4%) served customers suspected of having COVID-19 with a mean weekly number of 15.6 customers. All pharmacies dispensed antibiotics, mainly azithromycin and beta lactams to suspected COVID-19 infected customers. 83.4% of hospitalised COVID-19 patients received at least one antibiotic at some point during their hospitalisation, which was significantly higher than the 53.8% in general ward patients (p<0.001). Similarly, the average number of antibiotics administered to COVID-19 patients was higher than that of patients in the general ward (1.74 vs 0.9). Azithromycin and ceftriaxone were the most commonly used antibiotics in COVID-19 patients compared to ceftriaxone and metronidazole in the general wards. Only 2% of antibiotic prescriptions for COVID-19 patients were supported by microbiological investigations, which was consistent with the proportion of 6.8% among the general ward population. Antibiotics were commonly prescribed to customers and patients suspected of having COVID-19 either in community pharmacies or in hospital, without a prescription or laboratory diagnosis. These findings emphasize the crucial role of antibiotic stewardship, particularly in community pharmacies, in the context of COVID-19.


Gacheri, J., Hamilton, K.A., Munywoki, P., Wakahiu, S., Kiambi, K., Fèvre, E.M., Oluka, M.N., Guantai, E.M., Moodley, A. and Muloi, D.M. 2024. Antibiotic prescribing practices in community and clinical settings during the COVID-19 pandemic in Nairobi, Kenya. PLOS Global Public Health 4(4): e0003046.


  • Gacheri, June
  • Hamilton, Katie A.
  • Munywoki, Peterkin
  • Wakahiu, Sinaida
  • Kiambi, Karen
  • Fèvre, Eric M.
  • Oluka, M.N.
  • Guantai, E.M.
  • Moodley, Arshnee
  • Muloi, Dishon M.