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Government warns against self-medication

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By Timothy Akintola

FG and WHO initiate walk to sensitize public on medication without harm.

Self-medication remains one of the biggest healthcare challenges in the world. In fact, reports place the global prevalence rate of self-medication within the range of 11 percent to 93 percent depending on the country. The prevalence of self-medication among Nigerians is at an all-time high. Despite the dangers that it poses to health status, the menace of taking drugs without the prescription of a doctor has been so trivialized and practiced openly. Even numerous health policies initiated by the government to curb this menace have not been adhered to. In understanding why Nigerians self-medicate, it is evident that the inaccessibility and inefficiency of the healthcare system have immensely pushed people to opt for over-the-counter medications.

The Federal Government has however warned the general public against taking drugs without a doctor’s prescription, on the sole basis that self-medication has proven to cause a greater threat to their health status. At the commemorative walk for the World Patient Safety Day 2022, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire pointed out that self-medication was a bigger threat to the health system than ailment being treated itself. He then noted that there was a paramount need to sensitize the public, as well as the healthcare professionals, to ensure that the best healthcare practices are being carried out.

Walk, a measure to educate the public on self-medication hazards.

Represented by Adebimpe Adebiyi, the Director of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health noted that the walk an important step towards the educating the general population of self-medication and the dangers that it poses. That having an headache and just grabbing a paracetamol from the pharmacy is not enough, noting that while there is an on-the-counter medication, there is still a great need for people to know about their underlying conditions.

This walk was initiated by the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organization. The World Patient Safety Day celebrated yearly on September 17, emphasizes on medication without harm. This initiative which commenced in 2017 has been a platform for appealing to stakeholders to take swift decisions in important areas significantly associated with patient harm due to unsafe healthcare practices such as high-risk situations, transition of care, as well as recurring use of multiple medications.

Errors in medications make up half of all avoidable dangers in healthcare.

The World Health Organization, during a statement to commemorate the event, indicated that statistically, one of every twenty patients globally immensely suffer avoidable unsafe medication practices and medical harm. Tedros Ghentreyesus, WHO’s Director General also noted that errors in medication made up half of all avoidable dangers in healthcare. He stated that while drugs are important measures for health protection, it could pose greater risk to one’s health if used without a prescription or are of a substandard quality.

With patient safety being noticed globally, Stephen Emoh a community physician and patient safety consultant, also speaking at the event, noted that the federal government was already in the process of drafting a policy to aid patients’ safety throughout the country. He further stated that there was a need to sensitize Nigerians on the inherent threats that self-medication practices pose. He said that there was a need for patients to know the medications they consume and the pros and cons of these medications, appealing to the government to further empower patients’ families, so as aid asking the right questions about the medications being prescribed.

Over 50% of global deaths, a result of unsafe medication.

Another patient safety ambassador, Ehi Eden also noted that medication safety has become a critical concern globally in the healthcare scene due to the fact that it has grown increasingly as one of the leading causes of death. Per statistics, he stated that over 50 percent of deaths are as a result of unsafe medications, which according to him, have been underreported. He however called for a high level of advocacy and general awareness, suggesting that stakeholders must be possibly engaged so as to ensure medication safety.


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