By Odokonyero Kennedy
Last Friday was World Pharmacist Day 2015. The theme for this year’s celebration: Pharmacist: Your Partner In Health.
Public discussions on inadequate number of health care workers in Uganda often focus only on medical doctors, nurses, mid wives and laboratory technicians. Lack of Pharmacists is hardly mentioned.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda (PSU) on Sunday 20th September 2015 launched the, “Uganda Rational Medicine Use Campaign.”
Pharmacists are often described as experts on medicines. They are involved from manufacturing up to when the patient uses it.
According to WHO the rational use of drugs requires that patients receive medicines appropriate to their clinical needs, in doses that meet their own individual requirements, for an adequate period of time, and at the lowest cost to them and the community.
Therefore a pharmacist is at the center of promoting rational use of medicine.
Promotion of rational use of drugs require a muti- sectoral approach involving policy makers, government institutions like National Drug Authority (NDA) and National Medical Stores (NMS), health care professionals and the general masses.
The sector that is often under looked is the general masses. It is critical to sensitize the public on the proper use of medicines.
Let me illustrate how the masses improperly use drugs.
It’s common to find family members sharing drugs prescribed just for one person. Although the family would consider it economical, such practices would result in poor clinical outcome such as prolonged duration of illness.
In my clinical rotation at Mulago Hospital, I have met patients whose conditions exacerbate after taking conventional medicines concomitantly with herbal medicines. Because there is inadequate knowledge on interaction between herbs and conventional medicines, it’s considered safer for patients to avoid taking both at the same time.
Once they start feeling better, some patients stop taking their medications. This can cause relapse of illness.
A considerable percentage of the populations self medicates, sometimes taking drugs that they are not supposed to be taking. It puts on the patient unnecessary economic burden and at risk of complications resulting from drugs.
To remain efficacious, a drug has to be stored in specified conditions. For example some drugs are light sensitive and disintegrate when exposed to light. It’s important that the patient is educated on proper storage of drugs.
Extensive sensitization of the public on proper medicine use will there for go a long way in prompting ration medicine use in Uganda.
The writer is a fourth year Pharmacy Student at Makerere University and Speaker of Makerere University Pharmacy Students Association (MUPSA)