An appreciable number of Nigerians today indulge in self medication just because of the economic situation of the country. Many believe taking painkillers and local herbal brew (agbo) is the best way to tackle health related issues. The practice has cut short so many promising lives yet people are not discouraged from the act as it remains a trend.
ENCOMIUM Weekly sought the opinion of a medical consultant and many Nigerians on the astronomical rise in the practise of self medication. In this chat, they revealed the economic situation of the country is the major cause as they can no longer afford orthodox medicare.
SAMUEL OLUDE (Pharmacist)
Thousands of Nigerians have been self-medicating for years. It is not a new trend. To start with, let me analyse the term, self medication. It is when someone falls sick, rather than visit a health specialist so that the person can be diagnosed and necessary medication prescribed, such person stays at home and takes medications without medical advice. I believe so many factors make people to self medicate. A lot of people believe when they are having headache, paracetamol is the cure forgetting that some ailments have the same symptom. I have seen different cases of people who took to self medication and it turned out to be another thing. Some of them will come to me after trying all sorts of medicines on their own.
If I ask them why they decided to try self medication before consulting a specialist, they give all sorts of funny reasons. Some will say specialists are trying to exhort them because their bills are high. I also understand the situation of the country but that should not warrant putting one’s life at risk. People need to change their perception about how they handle their health. Nigerians are not health conscious. They believe in cheap drugs and herbal brew which is killing many. If you are feeling down, consult a health specialist and let the specialist diagnose and prescribe the appropriate drug you need.
Another thing is, people have various kinds of allergies. You have to explain to your doctor those things you are allergic to. Don’t assume you know it all. You know yourself better than anyone else. The best way to fight sickness is to consult a health specialist and say no to self medication.
MRS. ENIOLA ADEBO
I am also guilty of self medication. Our private hospital bills in Nigeria are just too expensive, and general hospitals are not reliable because it takes a lot of time and energy before you see a doctor. So, I don’t have an option. I practice self medication and it has been working for me and my kids.
I remember I used to take my kids to primary health centres in my area but what I noticed is that they kept prescribing the same drugs for my kids for almost five months. Instead of going there every month to get the same prescription, I started buying antibiotics for them. So, I think a large number of us are guilty of self medication. But it’s not our fault, it is just the situation of the country.
MRS. OLUWATOSIN ARIKE
Why should I stop practicing self medication? I know I have to use paracetamol when I have headache and pain reliever when my body aches. So, why should I stop? I cannot afford hospital bills. They charge a whole lot of money to diagnose someone. Specialists are looking for what to eat and I don’t have that money to give them. With the help of self medication and prayer, I am fine.
I practise self medication a lot. I can’t remember the last time I went to the hospital for check-up. It is not my fault because I can’t afford it. The poor don’t have free medical access in Nigeria. Even the rich that do still fall sick. One needs to just pray for good health.
I don’t even use medication at all. I believe in herbal mixtures. I know how to treat myself with herbal brew like agbo. It has really been helping me. Hospitals or specialists will demand money from me. With just a little amount of money, I can buy agbo and treat myself.