Self-medication is self-poisoning, warn health experts

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NDA officials display impounded fake and expired drugs in western Uganda in Hoima Town on Friday.

(Photo: John Kibego)

The Hoima District Inspector of Drugs, Mr David Timbigamba has warned the public against self-medication saying they end up poisoning themselves.

Mr Timbigamba told Kazi-Njema News today that it has been noted that some members of the public are currently treating themselves using either herbs or modern medicines, yet it is detrimental to their life.

He said that medically, “medicine is a carefully used poison while poison is a carelessly used medicine”.

The drug inspector advised people to always take any medicine under the guidelines of the health worker to avoid putting their lives at stake.

Mr Timbigamba revealed that self-medication has now become a drug abuse resulting in drug resistance against numerous illnesses.

He said that every drug outlet has to be manned by credible and qualified personnel who can prescribe drugs to patients correctly.

According to him, the Lake Albert shoreline is awash with uncontrolled mushrooming drug outlets. He said this is especially at unrecognised landing sites that have tight links with the remote areas of the Ituri Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In the same vein, Dr Racheal Asiimwe of Buliisa General Hospital revealed that pain killers like paracetamol and anti-malarial drugs like coartem are the most abused medicines in the area.

“Nowadays, people assume that every fever is malaria to the extent that whoever feels feverish moves to the nearest drug shop to buy anti-malarial drugs. They even know to ask drug shop attendants to give them tablets according to the money they have. Because they [drug shop attendants] also want money, they give them!” wondered Dr. Asiimwe.

The medic added that the impact of self-medication is reflected in health centres through admissions especially of children who die on arrival to the health facility after weeks of wrongly and unprofessionally diagnosed sicknesses with improper medication. She said that patients arrive when they are too weak to help.

Dr Asiimwe also reiterated that drug abuse leads to drug resistance in that a particular medicine will no longer be useful to someone even if it would be.

According to a report released by the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda (PSU), 60% of Ugandans are still risking their lives by taking drugs without technical guidance.

Mr Samuel Kyomukama, a law enforcement officer at the National Drug Authority (NDA) said that unqualified personnel, unlicensed drug outlets and unethical behaviours among healthcare givers remain key challenges facing the health sector in Uganda.

He vowed that NDA will intensify its operations to close all illegal drug shops and clinics both in urban and rural areas that he said are a source of the growing habit of self-medication.

Mr Kyomukama urged the public to be vigilant to avoid falling an easy prey to counterfeit drugs flocking the market.

Mr Martin Zinira, a resident of Hoima town challenged the government to improve health services in public facilities to better address the problem of self-medication.

“What do you expect the poor person to do after visiting a government facility and directed to the drug shop to buy drugs? He will buy to the limits of his money and stop at that; which medics will say is dangerous,” observed Mr Zinira.

The Sustainable Development Goal number 3 expects all governments of the United Nations member states to ensure healthy lives and wellbeing for all at all ages.

Uganda is one of the member states but realising this goal as 2030 zooms in, looks to be a complicated one to hit.

Timbigamba on self medication
Dr Asiimwe on self-medication

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