There is a potentially deadly tendency by many people to rush to pharmacies or chemists to buy medicines, especially antibiotics, whenever they feel even a little sick or have a nagging pain. Ideally, they should to go hospital and be examined by a qualified medical practitioner to establish their illness and prescribe the right medicine.

However, self-prescription or consulting quacks presents a serious problem in healthcare provision. These people dabbling in a business they know nothing about are endangering their own lives or those of the people for whom they procure drugs.

Unfortunately, also, many will take some medicine and, on feeling a little better, stop, with the half a dose of antibiotics turning into a grave danger for them. A new study has confirmed that many Kenyans are literally slowly killing themselves by taking half doses of prescriptions, contributing to an increase in drug resistance. Of major concern is the emergence and spread of multi-drug resistant bacteria.

 The Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) study has also found that a majority of community drug sellers advise customers to take just a fraction of the dose and little bits later. The over-the-counter drug sale is thus a source of danger. It should also worry the Health authorities that most drug sellers do not ask for prescriptions from qualified medical practitioners.

Irrational usage and abuse of antibiotics are among the key contributors to the increasing drug resistance worldwide. There is a need, therefore, to increase public awareness and strengthen enforcement and adherence to prescription-only sales to alleviate the problem.

The emerging resistance to medicines used for the treatment of the major diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV-Aids calls for serious attention. This must be done to avoid eroding the gains made in controlling the spread of these diseases and the resultant deaths that make them among the country’s major health challenges.


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