Musawo, can I get 10 capsules of Ampiclox? This is the most popular request at the pharmacy counter. Into further inquiry on what the patient will use the capsule, a blunt “I’ll pour them on the wound, 1 capsule every day” is uttered! This and many more scenarios at most drug stores are the ordeal of the day in Ugandan pharmacy in the name of self-medication.

Self-medication is the use of medicinal products by the consumer to treat self-diagnosed disorders or symptoms or the intermittent or continued use of medication prescribed by a physician for chronic or recurrent disorders.

In some incidences, self-medication has advantages especially if the drug or the medical device is used the right way. Take for example, a known asthmatic child who gets an attack on a cold, rainy evening at their grandmother’s so many kilometers away from a functional health facility, but the mother uses an asthmatic inhaler to save a life. This and so many other scenarios are really important to save lives! The right self-medication reduces load on medical care service providers, saves lives in cases of emergencies and reduces treatment costs. However, in the recent past, self-medication has taken a great toll on us, humans and animals!

With the COVID-19 era, there has been a reckless practice of self-medication. The population is scared! Any slight ailment would require an azithromycin or pen-v. We have self-proclaimed veterinary doctors that give any dose of oxy-tetracycline injection to any calf or cow that looks like it has no energy to eat grass. The belief that Paracetamol works for any type of pain, amoxicillin for any cough, pain rub for anybody weakness, and the list goes on. But wait, what if there is a bigger illness than just the symptom you are experiencing?

The dangers of self-medication are real and detrimental. Over the past few years, we have seen; antibiotics that used to work for the so called minor bacterial infections fail, people mask a symptom that later turned into something terrible than expected. Aside the resistance, we risk addictions, over doses, unknown drug reactions, interactions and poly-pharmacy.

We therefore have a big role to play as patients, health care givers and the government. Health care givers to give sufficient information about drugs and first aid procedures. As a patient always ask for guidance where there seems a gap and adhere to the doses given and to the authorities; let there be a strict regulation on prescription only medicines and avail drugs that are fit for human consumption.

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