Decades ago, a tragic story was told by a woman who lost her children due to the inappropriate use of medicines. Before that incident, she had complained to a local herbalist about cleansing the stomach of her twin girls, the only children she had had after ten years of marriage.
The self-proclaimed herbalist gave her a concoction of some herbs to administer to her children. Within an hour, these children lost their lives; this is one of many stories people share in connection with the inappropriate use of medicines in our country.
Imagine the number of people that end up in the emergency room, dialysis center, or die because of the irrational use of medication. The emergence of COVID-19, a novel virus with no known treatment, is one avenue that can breed misinformation; taking into consideration the information load on the internet, which can lead to the ridiculous use of medicines, because of fear and anxiety associated with it.
For centuries, medicines have sustained millions of people, with many saved from paralysis or death. However, inappropriate use could have lots of damaging effects on individuals and society at large. Irrational use of drugs, as explained by the World health organization, is when medicines received by an individual; are not appropriate for their needs and doses do not meet the individual requirement for the required period and the lowest cost to them and their community.
Medicines are not used appropriately due to many factors. First, Most drug peddlers are not adequately regulated by law enforcement agencies, and this has given them the freedom to operate. Self-proclaimed doctors and drug peddlers in our communities and market places parade with buckets and sacks of medicines. Providing individuals with medication for conditions that they are not indicated for, using flowery words that lure poor individuals; for example, to think that they need a pain reliever to deal with stroke symptoms. These are evident, especially in ‘trotro’ and other public transportation buses in the capital.
Most medicines administered by these drug peddlers are usually not appropriate for their condition or might cause complications for individuals involved due to some contra-indications such as being pregnant or with other existing conditions.
Besides, some patients are misinformed about the use of some medication, such as antibiotics, hence contributing to drug resistance. Clients in community pharmacies pressure their healthcare providers for these antibiotics, threatening the people that have their health interest at heart and eventually leading to the issue of drug resistance.
Also, the insufficient staff at some health care facilities has contributed to the irrational use of drugs. Most health care facilities are overwhelmed with lots of work and few qualified healthcare providers, contributing to the recruitment of staff with little or no formal education. This unqualified staff dispenses medications for the wrong condition, duration, or dosage that does not conform to standard practices.
Furthermore, the lack of experience, lack of ongoing professional training, and education on the part of some healthcare providers has also contributed to the problem. Ato, a third-year university student, suffered some complications after he was given some medications for acne, which subsequently leads to him getting paralyzed. Ato’s condition was hard to diagnose, and so he was put on the wrong medication, which eventually caused him the most devastating days of his life hence deferring a semester.
To add to this, some promotional activities on some medications have misled people into believing claims about medicines, which are usually not entirely true. These promoters in their quest to lure people can market, for instance, menstrual pain medication as a vagina tightening medicine to coerce some women to patronize them.
Irrational use of drugs has impacted vulnerable groups of people in our country, think of the pregnant woman, who gave birth to a baby who had some development issues due to medicines she abused during conception. Consider the number of children maimed after they consumed medications prescribed by so-called self-proclaimed area doctors. The kidney, liver, and heart conditions exacerbated by irrational drug usage, not to talk about the number of drug addicts who have ended up in the mental facilities all because of the misuse of some medicines.
Medicines are necessary poisons that should not be misused. The effects of irrational use of drugs mar more than it improves our health outcomes. Problems with drug resistance can be hard to manage if drugs are misused. The World Health Organization recommended some solutions to curb this menace by; advocating for the establishment of a multidisciplinary national body to coordinate policies on medicine use, use of clinical guidelines, and establishment of drug and therapeutics committees in districts and hospitals and public education about medicines. When these recommendations are put into practice, the issue with the irrational use of drugs might decrease.