. Experts speak
As Nigerian doctors’ strike lingers, many citizens have settled for self-medication in order to meet their health needs, a development causing more harm than good.
In early August, resident doctors downed tools over irregularities in the payment of salaries to the house officers.
The doctors are seeking an upward review of the hazard allowance to 50% of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and payment of the outstanding Covid-19 inducement allowance, especially in state-owned-tertiary institutions.
FirstNews Online also understands that the doctors are also demanding the abolishment of the exorbitant bench fees being paid by their members in all training institutions across the country.
A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, showed that Nigeria is one of the three leading African countries where physicians leave for foreign jobs.
The industrial action, according to medical practitioners, has negative effects on patients, especially those who visit “local chemists” without doctors’ prescription. In cases where drugs are not properly administered, patients’ cases may be complicated or sometimes lead to death.
Speaking on the challenges, a medical doctor, Alfa Yusuf, explained told First News the implications of self-medication, the roles of “chemists” and achievable solutions to common Nigerians.
Yusuf who doubles as the president of resident doctors at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Bida, Niger State, said, “Self medication is totally prohibited, it’s not advisable; in fact, it has been the cause of most of the complications that we see in their routine clinics and when seeing their patients generally.”
He stressed that it is necessary to be diagnosed and do a proper investigation of patients before taking treatment which might be drugs or injections.
“Some might not even need drugs and some might need other procedures aside from drugs alone. So if people go ahead and take drugs, it might suppress some features that are supposed to point out some of the conditions and make it very difficult to get the diagnosis.
“Secondly, buying drugs yourself over the counter sometimes can lead to resistance and that’s what we’re seeing over the years now. Some of our anti-malaria are not even working because people just walk into the pharmacy without even testing whether they have malaria or not. They just go and buy malaria drugs and all of that leads to an increase in the resistance of the available malaria drugs. It’s really bad and should not be encouraged.”
Asked about how patients would have access to doctors amid the strike, Yusuf simply responded saying “there are still hospitals that are working. Patients just need to at least get a contact doctor and get to speak with him or her before commencing any medication at all.
“Chemists are not allowed to prescribe. It is just terminology coined because people want to get a means of livelihood. Even a pharmacy does not have a sole right to prescribe drugs to any patient.
“Their own right is to dispense drugs in appropriate quantity, amount and duration of the drugs will be explained to the patient by the pharmacist that’s in charge.”
Speaking on the way forward, the doctor advocated for a reform of the health sector in order to find lasting solutions to the problems facing the health system generally.
“A lot of people commit atrocities in their parlor and rooms. They take people in and cut them anyhow and a lot of people have died from such dangerous and avoidable procedures. There is the need for sanitation of the health system generally.
“Those that are culprits should be dealt with to ensure that people are doing the right thing.”