BY AGATHA MUHAISE
Ms Kyaligonza Betty, the receptionist at Allan Galpin health Centre, says that nearly half of the student body has no record of seeking medical care from the health centre. Following his interesting information, The Standard carried out a survey in the UCU community, asking people whether they would visit Allan Galpin or buy paracetamol to treat a headache.
Ninety percent of the respondents said they would go buy painkillers. When it was pointed out to them that the services of Allan Galpin are free, 60 percent still said they would only go to the clinic if the painkillers did not work, after prolonged use.
Dr Geoffrey Rwabaingi Mulindwa, the director of medical services at UCU, says that self-medication is when one feels unwell, skips the process of seeking medical help from a qualified medical professional, hazards a guess at the problem and administers medication accessed over the counter.
“A person is supposed to get a prescription from a technician and medicine will be dispensed accordingly,” Mulindwa said.
Causes of self-medication
“When you go to Allan Galpin, you queue to see the doctor and then queue again to get your prescription.
In the process you are exposed to more diseases than you went to the clinic with,” one of the respondents said. Such a person, a member of the ‘microwave generation’, only focuses on the time spent to access medical care, ignoring the benefits.
On 24 July 2016, WBS Television released a report showing that patients were opting for self-medication due to the high consultation fees charged in hospitals and health centers. These can be as high as Shs50,000 in private health centers.
The ease with which all types of medicine are accessed in drug shops also fuels the habit. Imelda Tumuhaise a retired nurse says that a drug shop should be run by a qualified nurse, midwife, medical assistant or a doctor before it is issued with a practicing license.
However, the custom is that these qualified personnel only sign as the custodians for the licence, and hand over the business to anyone else to run. This leaves many unqualified people dispensing drugs to patients.
Tumuhaise said that the national district drug inspector inspects the drug shops before they commence business, and every once a year afterwards, exacerbating the problem. The drugs need to be kept under specific temperatures and conditions, is inspection once a year enough to ensure compliance.
Tumuhaise further said that individuals go to the drug shop with a decision on the medicine they want. “Such people do not follow medical personnel’s advice. They often think that because of former successful usage., they qualify for the same treatment. They even go ahead to prescribe the same to others with similar symptoms,” she said.
Dr Mulindwa said that people have a deceptive tradition of ‘the end justifies the means’, forgetting that they are now treating symptoms and not the cause of the disease. So, next time you feel tempted to reach for the non-prescribed pain killers, consider paying a visit to the health centre for professional advice