The act of self-medication among Ghanaians has become a serious threat to our existence especially the use and abuse of pain killers, antibiotics and aphrodisiac products.
The phenomenon is thriving due to the busy nature of the working class and general poverty among the people, especially those in the deprived areas, making it impossible for a number of them to visit the hospital for medical care.
The least pain people feel in the body they rush for non-prescribed medicines, and this is worrying.
Medicinal products are generally divided into prescription and non-prescription medicines. This classification may differ from country to country. The national authorities must however ensure that medicines, categorised as non-prescription medicines, are safe and not harmful to health.
Prescription medicines are those which are only available to individuals on prescription from a physician following a consultation. These medicines are not safe for use except under the supervision of a physician because of toxicity, other potential harmful effects, the method of use, or the collateral measures necessary for use.
Buying medicines from drug peddlers and quack doctors has become the order of the day and the business is booming at the markets where most traders patronise these services.
People chose to buy drugs from these sellers because it is easy to come by, at a cheaper price and it is brought to them in the comfort of their homes and work places.
The longer hours spent at the hospitals is also a contributing factor that has increased the rate at, which people self-medicate.
For the poor, the reason could be that they have no money to pay for hospital bills, as the National Health Insurance Scheme does not cover every medication.
The threat posed by such road side medicines is that, one cannot tell how safe they are since they are mostly exposed to many unhygienic conditions as well as the vagaries of the weather.
Advertising and marketing of non-prescribed medicines should be checked to ensure that clear and accurate information are giving to the public to facilitate a fair balance between benefits and risks.
Though the Pharmacy Council promised that Ghana would be coming out with strategies to flash out unlicensed and unregistered drug sellers from the open market, the number rather keeps escalating, raising eyebrows as to whether the council is actually enforcing its mandatory roles and keeping to its promises.
The fire that recently gutted the Central Medical Store in Tema should also alert the Pharmacy Council and the Food and Drugs Authority to be on a look out as the incident is likely to pave way for more fake drugs to get into the country.
Another worrying situation is the increasing use of sedative drugs like alcohol and heroin among the youth as a booster in carrying out their activities.
The alcoholic beverages being advertised and displayed on television channels, radio stations, magazines, billboards, newspapers and the internet has worsened the rate of consumption thereby causing more harm than good.
This is a serious issue and it is high time the country takes a second look at this problem because people are drinking at a high rate and wasting away gradually, which in effect is escalating the down-ward trend of national development.
The drinking and smoking habit of most Ghanaians is increasing the risks of cancer, anaemia, cardiovascular challenges, cirrhosis, and many other diseases.
The time for the Pharmacy Council and the people of Ghana to stand up on their feet and say no to the intake of all these non-prescribed medicines and sedative drugs is now.
It is important for Ghanaians to note that without good health there is no productivity.
Government should ensure that there is distinction between prescription and non-prescription medicines, and safeguard users of self-medication by keeping them well informed and protected from possible harm or negative long-term effects.
Ghanaians must be encouraged to treat medicines both prescription and non-prescription as special products and standard precaution should be followed in terms of safe storage and usage, in accordance with professional advice.
Source: GNA/Samira Larbie, Elsie Appiah-Osei and Awudu Salami
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