Why self medication thrives in Nigeria
SELF-MEDICATION is all about usage of drugs without proper prescription from a doctor or medical personnel. Self-medication has become rampant in the society. It is a common trend for people in this clime to go to a nearby pharmacy or chemist to treat themselves without proper prescription from medical professionals whenever they are ill.
Many people prefer this method because they feel it is cheaper and easier. Some people indulge in self-medication due to economic hardship, while some see it as waste of money to consult any medical practitioner. Also, most people who are living far away from the hospital or medical centres find it more difficult to go to the hospital for check-ups and prefer to treat themselves; forgetting that some drugs can be harmful to the body system.
Some people might be thinking that they have slight headache or malaria and will be treating malaria forgetting there might be something that led to a particular sickness; while some will not even care to know. That is why a specialist or doctor is very important because he/she will carry out tests to know the actual problem. Self-medication sometimes leads to death because some of the drugs sold by the chemist or pharmacy are expired drugs and some chemists will not ask what the sickness is all about before giving out drugs because all their aim is to make profit.
Research has shown that self-medication practice leads to incorrect self diagnosis, dangerous drug interaction, incorrect dosage, masking of a severe disease and risk of dependence and abuse.
Another consequence of self-medication is taking overdose. Some people are not sure how many tablets to take and it is very harmful to health and may result to death. Another danger of self-medication is drug sensitivity. A drug that works for your friend might not have the same effect on you and will lead to allergic reactions and diverse side effects.
Again, taking drugs all the time without prescription can easily result to drug addiction. People normally take drugs for them to be high. Example, taking tramadol all the time before sex without knowing that excess of it can weaken the vein. In certain cases, people take drugs with toxic substances which is very harsh.
The reaction of drug A might affect or influence the reaction of drug B and it is one of the reasons why everyone should go to the doctor for prescription. Again, the kind of drugs people take leads to skin reaction and other negative effects in and out of the system. Some drugs are capable of damaging the body system and if care is not taken, it will lead to death.
Some pregnant women do get drugs from chemists or pharmacies without prescription; and there are drugs that cannot be taken by pregnant women because it is capable of getting rid of the unborn child or cause harm to the baby.
According to Doctor Cliff Okafor of Harmony Specialist Hospital, Awka, Anambra State,“people indulge in self-medication mainly because they are afraid of spending money, not that they don’t have but they are afraid of purchasing cards for services. That is the major issue because they have taken it as a culture of not being to the hospital so that they will not spend much. Sometimes, people discourage others not to go to the hospital because they think the sickness is a minor thing that he will go to any nearby chemist and buy drugs for”.
He disclosed that some people don’t believe that health is a priority. They are only interested in acquisition of wealth instead of treating the sickness very well. He said that going to hospital is very important as they carry out tests to know the actual cause of the sickness and also the kind of drugs that should be prescribed.
He said that the only thing that makes some people go to hospital was only if they were dying and by that time, it might be too late; which is why it is very important that everyone should go for check-up before taking any drug.
Mr Clement Erahon Osas from Edo State, who resides in Awka said that a lot of people indulged in self-medication whenever the y fell sick or felt weak to the extent that they run to any nearby chemist shop or pharmacy asking them for injection. According to him, the owner of the pharmacy actually wants to sell his/her drug because they also want to make profit and sometimes, the drug may not work.
He disclosed that some people take drugs because their friends took forgetting that what works for another might not work for the person. “Some will say that traditional herbs are better, but mixing herbal and orthodox medicine will damage the body system.” He also said that it was good for someone to be going for check-ups in order to know the kind of drugs he/she was supposed to take.
According to him, in Nigeria, there is high level of illiteracy. Some people are not educated. Even those that are educated are not that financially buoyant to buy drugs which is why people prefer self-medication.
He stated that he normally go to the hospital for medical check-up but not all the time because of some activities like work which makes him end up going to the chemist and buy drugs. He said that he had a personal nurse that treated him anytime he fell sick, adding that it is not advisable for someone to buy drugs without doctor’s prescription because people might be thinking that they are okay but they are not. That is why life expectancy is very low in Nigeria, unlike other advanced country.
Mrs Blessing Erahon from Awka said that was not advisable to go through self medication because a lot of people die through it.
She disclosed that some of the chemists buy drugs inside the market and not from the company that normally produce drugs and sometimes, the drugs don’t have NAFDAC number .
Miss Chioma, from Awka said that self medication had disadvantages because so many people are abusing drugs. She said that she always go to the hospital for check up anytime she falls sick and that some people don’t go for check ups before taking drug.