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Sunday 13 November - Short paper session 2
Children's access to medicines
  1. S Alkahtani,
  2. J Cherrill,
  3. P Tambe,
  4. C Millward,
  5. R Hilliam,
  6. H Sammons,
  7. I Choonara
  1. Academic Division of Child Health, University of Nottingham, Derbyshire Children's Hospital, Derby, UK


Background Access to healthcare is important. Access is dependent on parent's attitudes towards illness and children as well as access to health professionals. Many research studies have been conducted in relation to medicines given to children1 and only a few of these focused on the health needs of minority groups such as refugees and homeless people 2 3 in relation to their access to healthcare.4

Objective The authors wished to study the children of asylum seekers and refugees in the East Midlands area of the UK, as they are thought to be likely to experience significant problems in accessing healthcare and medical treatment.

Methods Semistructured interviews were conducted with parents of these groups of children. The authors determined accessibility to healthcare and also their attitudes towards receiving treatment for the following medical conditions: epilepsy, asthma and pain. The authors recorded medicines given to the children by parents over the last month and the last 6 months. Difficulties in relation to obtaining medicines were explored.

Results The authors interviewed 46 refugees and asylum seekers. They had a total of 111 children (median number 3, range 1–6). The ages of the children ranged from 2 months to 18 years (median age 6 years). All were registered with GPs and all children were fully immunised. 31 children had had an illness in the preceding month and all were prescribed a medicine. A total of 43 medicines had been prescribed. The number of medicines prescribed range from 1 to 3 (median 1). Ninety seven children had had an illness in the last six months and 81 were prescribed a total of 89 medicines (median number 2, range 1–3). The medicines prescribed included paracetamol, ibuprofen, amoxicillin, digoxin, lisinopril and lactulose. Twenty parents stated that would give analgesics for earache, whereas 26 would not. Thirty four would be happy to inform their friends and relatives that their child had epilepsy whereas 12 would not.

Conclusion This pilot study suggests that access to medicines and healthcare in children of refugees in the East Midlands is good. Further work is underway with large numbers to provide more information.

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