A solution/part of the solution for the problem of irrational drug use could be devised by addressing each/any of the factors responsible for irrational drug use.
However, we, at The Aashritha Foundation, have chosen to work with the patient segment and we are focused to empower the patients to change from a patient mindset to being effective consumers of their healthcare.
At the time of treatment of any infection/disease, patients play the most important role in rational/irrational medicine use on a day to day basis. Some of the questions that they might be trying to answer before using any medicine on a daily basis may be:
- “Should I take medicine as prescribed?”
- “I am feeling fine today, I can skip a dose today.”
- “I am feeling low today, let me take another dose today.”
- “I am having a severe headache, let me take an analgesic.”
In these situations, patient awareness is a pre-requisite to patient action and thus plays a crucial role in rational/irrational use of medicines. Besides, the need is more important in view of the aggressive and unethical marketing practices employed by the pharmaceutical companies.
Also, at present, not many organizations are working to create patient awareness about the exorbitant costs/heath effects (for complications) that results because of incorrect usage of the supplied medicines.
- Providing awareness to the patient about medicines could help them take correct decisions and thus serve as an important solution towards promoting their proper use.
- Providing low cost generic medicines: The exorbitant costs of some of the medicines leads to irrational use specially by the poorer sections of the society. Thus providing low cost generic medicines could serve as another solution towards rational medicine use.
- Providing awareness about traditional medicines for simple ailments: Many of the traditional home medicines have been found to be effective for simple infections (cold, cough). Thus, awareness about these could help reduce the visits to doctors and could also promote wise use of medicines.
The Aashritha Foundation is focused to work on these solutions and promote rational use of medicines and an integrated approach to a healthy life.
However, easier said than done, there are many challenges here too!
Some of the challenges are:
- People are aware that there are side effects associated with using medicines. However, they still use them rampantly (specially self-medicate) to get temporary reliefs and finally land up in a vicious cycle of a pill after every pill.
- People spend days researching on the car they want to buy, the home they want to stay in, the interiors that they want to be in the house, the restaurant they want to dine in, the clothes they want to wear, the shoes they want to purchase or the breakfast cereals that they would use.
However, when it comes to medicines, the decision is left to the discretion of the doctor/chemist!They often take decisions related to their medicines/health for granted and rarely try to question:
- What medicine they are taking?
- What’s in it and why are they taking it?
- Why they need to take the medicines as prescribed?
- What would happen if they stop taking medicine as prescribed?
- What could be the possible side effects of the medicines being used?
- What could be better/safer alternatives?
The consumer needs more focused information about the medicines they use, about the harm that can be caused by using them irrationally and the available harmless solutions which could be used to get relief in some of the situations.
The Aashritha Foundation would work to bridge this gap.