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Pharmacists caution Kenyans against self-medicating

Members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya have cautioned Kenyans against irresponsible buying of drugs over the counter whenever they feel unwell and instead urged them to visit a health facility for proper diagnosis.

Speaking at Murang’a level 5 hospital during this year’s World Pharmacists Day, Doctor Maina Mbugua, a pharmacist at Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital said that people should only buy medicine that has been prescribed by a doctor.

“When you buy medicine because you have a headache, before getting the necessary tests and consulting a doctor, you are only treating a symptom while the actual illness remains untreated,” he cautioned.

“Only with a doctor’s prescription will a pharmacist be able to give medicine as directed and advise you accordingly,” Mbugua added.

To mark the celebrations, the pharmacists were educating the public about pharmaco-vigilance a way to help the public identify and deal with the various side effects of medicines.

The doctors were also educating the public about microbial resistance which has become a global problem because several types of bacteria have become resistant to common drugs as a result of misuse of antimicrobial drugs.

“The common practice of going to a chemist to buy antibiotic drugs such as Amoxyl without a prescription or not completing the recommended doses of drugs is the major cause of resistance,” he said.

“Resistance means that the medicine may no longer be effective because the bacteria in a patient’s body may have gotten used to the drugs,” he explained.

He further cautioned the public against keeping leftover medicine in their homes for later use when they or a family member experience similar symptoms.

“Even if your child or neighbour says they are experiencing the symptoms you were experiencing, when you got the prescription they should visit a hospital and get their own prescription.

Mbugua noted that although human medicine is meant to heal, if misused it can be dangerous.

“For example a patient suffering from joint pains may use painkillers often to relieve the pain, however those painkillers could end up damaging the kidneys,” he said.

The doctors were also enlightened patients suffering from chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and arthritis on understanding the various drugs they take and how they are supposed to take them together and how to identify and deal with adverse side effects.

This years’ theme for the World Pharmacist’s Day that was officially marked on September 25 is ‘Pharmacy united in action for a healthier world’.

Another pharmacist, Dr. Esther Maina, who specializes in health products and technology supply chain management, observed that patients need medicine at the right time, in the right quantity and quality that is safe and affordable.

“As pharmacists we envision to have what the patients require for the illness they have,” she said.

Maina stated that it was the job of the pharmacist to advise the patients on different drugs and the most effective way to take the drugs for the best outcome.

She underscored the important role that pharmacists play as they counsel the patients on side effects to watch out for as well as advice on the types of drugs that should not be mixed ensuring that the patient gets the best outcome from the medicine.

Dr. Mbugua who is the Murang’a County Executive Committee (CEC) member for health and sanitation designate, asserted that the county government was committed to prioritising the welfare of medical practitioners in a bid to ensure improved services to the people.

Mbugua noted that other than ensuring the availability of drugs at public health facilities the county recognized the welfare of its employees as an important part of improving service delivery.

By Purity Mugo


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