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Self-medication causing drug resistance

By Vision Reporter

Added 29th May 2007 03:00 AM

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has discovered something worse than a herdsman swallowing panadol to treat diarrhoea. A survey done in several countries, including Uganda has revealed that even personnel in medical training institutions give patients the wrong medicine or the wrong doses.

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has discovered something worse than a herdsman swallowing panadol to treat diarrhoea. A survey done in several countries, including Uganda has revealed that even personnel in medical training institutions give patients the wrong medicine or the wrong doses.

By Fred Ouma

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has discovered something worse than a herdsman swallowing panadol to treat diarrhoea. A survey done in several countries, including Uganda has revealed that even personnel in medical training institutions give patients the wrong medicine or the wrong doses.

“Up to 80% of the drugs in some teaching hospitals are incorrectly prescribed. Either the prescription is not the right dose or the right quantity for the problem,” said Daphne Fresle, a WHO technical officer for essential drugs and medicines policy. Fresle said recently that if the use of drugs is so poor in hospitals then it must be terrible in the general population.

One of the most obvious consequences is drug resistance. Diseases that had been conquered with the discovery of antibiotics are beginning to re-appear as major killers. And the drugs that used to cure them can no longer be trusted because the germs get resistant. For example, the world is worried about the emerging strains of tuberculosis that cannot be cured with the usual treatment. Malaria, another common disease, has defied Chloroquine, the most available treatment.

“The problem of drug resistance is a direct result of inappropriate use. The drugs are becoming more and more expensive, less and less effective and sometimes with greater side effects,” said Dr. Pontiano Kaleebu, the assistant director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

Health ministry spokesman, Paul Kagwa, said his ministry, together with its partners, wants to strengthen education of communities in order to reduce the misuse of drugs.

Kagwa said the new approach would be to study and understand why people misuse drugs, and then address the root cause. “It is not enough to say ‘don’t buy drugs from the neighbouring shop’ when someone goes to the health centre and has to wait for long hours before they are seen,” he said.

Dr. Sam Zaramba, the director general of health service, says some diseases have similar symptoms. Picking a drug from the next shop in self-medication may make you treat the wrong ailment.

You might take an overdose or under-dose that may later cause complications, including drug resistance. If you are not a pharmacist, then you do not know about medication measures involved in dispensing drugs.

“As laymen, you may not know this. Stop being a “small doctor” and do the right thing. Visit a doctor whenever you fall sick or feel uneasy,” advises Dr. Zaramba.

Self-medication causing drug resistance

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