Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How To Take Your Medication Responsibly

What do you get when you put two pharmacists and a doctor together?
I don’t know. But, if anyone has a clever answer, please post!

The Buea Seventh-day Adventist Health Centre is happy to have two pharmacy volunteers from South Bend, Indiana, here to help us this month. Asima Ali and Emily Prabhu are pharmacy residents at the Saint Joseph Family Medicine Residency and are doing a global health rotation during the month of May with us.

On Saturday, May 4, 2012, these pharmacists presented a seminar at the Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church in Buea, Cameroon. Approximately 30+ people came to listen and learn about proper medication use.

The title of the talk was “The Three Essential Questions”. Over the course of their lecture, attendees learned more about the three basic questions they should always ask their pharmacist or doctor before taking a new medicine. These questions can be summarized as follows:
1.     Why should I take this medication? (Phrased another way, what is the medicine for?)
2.     How should I take this medicine?
a.     Frequency?
b.     Missed doses?
c.      With or without food?
d.     How many days?
e.     Storage?
3.     What side effects and interactions does this medicine have?

To close out the lecture and reinforce their teaching points, Asima and Emily performed two short skits demonstrating the right and wrong way to obtain a new medicine.

At the end, the audience was allowed to ask questions. The enthusiastic attendees listened well and had many questions to ask! Some of the more interesting questions that the residents fielded went along the following lines:

“I am very busy in my work. I don’t have time to eat during the day. Is there a pill that I can take to replace meals?”

“Is there a medicine that will cure gastric? (Gastric is a catchall term that refers to all kinds of stomach ailments)

“Is it a good idea to take antibiotics to prevent myself from getting sick?”

“Why are herbal supplements allowed into Cameroon if they might not be as effective as the label claims? Aren’t they regulated by the WHO?”

The lecture was well received and appreciated! Many questions were answered. We pray that the people of Buea will be better equipped to take charge of their own health by asking the right questions and taking their medications responsibly. In a country where prescriptions are not required and anyone can walk into a pharmacy and buy a drug, we need more education in the area of proper medication usage. Thanks Emily and Asima!