Sunday, January 16, 2022

Olayemi Ogunbanwo is a technician at the popular computer village in Ikeja. When I met Yemi, he told me he is 27year-old and specializes in fixing damaged printers in computer village. A critical look at him would awaken your mind to what your instinct is telling you about his health. Yemi’s eyeballs were very yellowish and anyone that truly care will not hesitate to tell him to see a doctor.

As a result, I engaged Yemi with a discussion about his health, he told me that he had been suffering from fever for over a week and he was just recovering from the ailment. My response to him was that, who told you it was a fever, why don’t you go to the hospital? With a disdain look, he said “Kí wón wá s’opé mo ní COVID-19 àbí’, (They should now say I have COVID-19 right)?

In his words, “I went to a pharmacy and requested for antimalarial drugs which I have completed the dose. If I had gone to the hospital, the doctor would have mandated me to go for the COVID-19 test and the test would have been probably positive because I believed most of their patients are either suffering from other diseases but not COVID-19. If I should go, they will say I have coronavirus, God forbid.”

Self-medication is the gateway to an untimely death.
Self-medication is becoming an increasingly important component of healthcare in Lagos state and its potential to do good, as well as cause harm, should never be underrated. Yemi’s belief about COVID-19 is totally wrong, even as Lagos State Government tends to enforce necessary measures that will prevent the spread of the disease and enhance the health of Lagosians. I told him that his decision to use over the counter drugs may eventually result in a more serious complication and eventually death if he did not seek immediate medical attention as it was very obvious that he is not healthy.

Another market woman at the popular arena market in Oshodi who simply wants to be identified as Iya Ibeji said, she believes so much in alternative therapy, adding that she has been using it to treat herself and her children for so long.

She said, ‘I can’t remember the last time I visited the hospital, I have been using alternative therapy to treat myself and nurtured four children with it without complications. This is not the right time to go to the hospital because if you go, they will say you have COVID-19 and put you in an isolation center for some days. ‘tí mo bá lọ sí ilé ìwòsàn lásìkò yìí, wọ́n lé sọ pé mo ní àrùn koronavirus, wọ́n ma wá so olúwà rẹ̀ di aláàrùn láàdúgbò”. If I should go to the hospital now, the doctor may say that I have coronavirus disease, they will now be stigmatizing me in the community.”

Health implications of self-medication
COVID-19 outbreak has made several residents of Lagos act on their health without consulting qualified health personnel. Self-medication which is the responsible selection and use of non-prescription medicines by individuals to treat self-recognized illnesses or symptoms has damaged vital organs in the life of many Lagos residents. A health care professional, Doctor Samuel Itukpa, said those who use drugs without a doctor’s prescription are the enemies of their life, who are killing themselves gradually with the use of drugs that are not prescribed by a medical professional.

“No doubt, Lagosians commonly reach for self-medication to help them treat their common health problems, which include fever, body pains, indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting, cough, and upper respiratory tract infections. The reason being that it is considered easier, more cost-effective, time-saving, or the problem may seem too minor to necessitate making an appointment with a healthcare professional, and in other cases, they may have few or no other options.

“The practice of self-medication can be linked with negative health effects such as the use of drugs in excessive amounts, misdiagnosis, drug resistance, use of expired drugs, poly-pharmacy, prolonged duration of use, drug interactions, and other toxicological and pharmacological risks associated with improper use of medicines which can lead to severe complications and eventual death if proper and immediate medical attention is not given,” says Dr Samuel.

Social stigma and discriminatory behaviours against people with a viral disease like COVID-19 are also one of the reasons people prefer to self-medicate, they rather treat the symptoms of any ailments by visiting a pharmacy or use an alternative therapy. People also tend to self-medicate, when they have previous experience of treating similar illness or non-availability of healthcare personnel with analgesics and antimicrobials being the most common medicine used. This practice has endangered several life and resulted in the increased numbers of death that are not related to COVID-19.

By Ife Adewole

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