The rampant practice of self-medication is indicative of very strong existing push and pulls factors. These factors could be economic, social or systemic. Despite having some beneficial effects, self-medication has life-threatening consequences. This study was aimed to determine the factors which push users to medicine sources or factors at the sources which pull users. A pre-validated questionnaire was administered to participants. Data were collected and analyzed using Microsoft Excel and the results expressed as frequencies and percentages. From the total of 650 respondents, poverty was found to be the major push factor for 360 participants (55.39%), followed by unprofessionalism, friends’ advice, previous use of medicine, lack of time, and poor price regulation as others. Low cost of medicines was found to pull 402 (61.8%) users to sources of medicines for self-medication. More than 300 of the respondents found easy access to medicine and advertising as strong pull factors. Other important pull factors include quick and time-saving, proliferation of medicine vendors, hospital crowds, and inadequate prescription checks at sources of medication. Poverty is a major push factor for self-medication, further compounded by quick access to illicit sources of medication. Consequently, users get pulled to cheaper sources, which unfortunately sell poor quality medicines, lack the expertise, or do not check prescription. Price control is required to ensure that quality medicines are accessible to users. Imposing physician prescription at all medicine sales points is a crucial step to fight the deleterious consequences of self-medication. Although self-medication has some positive elements, its practice needs to be put under control to avoid grappling with long term health complications.
Key words: Self-medication, self-treatment, push factors, pull factors.
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