Editor's Comment

Stop coronavirus self-medication

FILE: HEALTH workers at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. PICTURE: ZANIS

HEALTH officials in Nigeria have issued a warning over chloroquine after they said three people in the country overdosed on the drug, in the wake of United States of America President Donald Trump’s comments about using it as a possible remedy for coronavirus.
According to the Cable News Network, three people were hospitalised in the city after taking the drug. Last week, Mr Trump, giving an update on the status of COVID-19 in the USA, said they were encouraging results of two drugs called chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for the novel coronavirus.
Mr Trump said the medications had gone through the approval process and was in the process of making the drug available almost immediately.
With 294,110 confirmed cases and 12,944 confirmed deaths in 187 countries, areas or territories with cases, COVID-19 has spawned fear in people.
When it appeared in Wuhan, China, at the beginning of December 2019, COVID-19 seemed too remote for Zambia to worry about it.
The majority of the illnesses were initially in China, where the virus first emerged, but now there are more cases outside of China than there were inside of it at the height of the outbreak.
There are large outbreaks of the disease in multiple places, including Spain, Italy, Iran, and the United States and Africa, including Zambia, which has so far recorded three cases.
Some citizens are now living in fear to the extent that even those with common colds are now resorting to chloroquine against doctors’ advice.
Hence the counsel by the Zambia Medial Association that chloroquine does not cure coronavirus but only helps relieve some symptoms.
Therefore, Zambians should stop buying medicine over the counter to treat flu or symptoms of COVID-19 but seek medical advice from qualified health personnel.
If abused, chloroquine has potential to cause heart problems as the case is in Nigeria, where desperate people took it upon themselves to take the drug and ended up being overdosed.
Zambians have to be careful and follow advice by health experts all the time. Chloroquine is still on trial as a remedy for COVID-19.
It is therefore not an option.
The public should be calm and desist from self-medication as scientists in various countries are researching on the cure of the infection and prevention.
Any person who encounters flu-like symptoms for COVID-19 should report himself or herself for testing and get into self-isolation.
There is also need to adhere to advice such as eating healthy by embracing citrus fruits rich in vitamin C, coupled with adequate hydration.
Pharmacy practitioners, on one hand, should give proper advice to clients and avoid the social media frenzy. Pharmacies should never be carried away by customer demands.
Pharmacists should always refer patients to medical facilities. They should demand for prescriptions as opposed to administering drugs over the counter.
The Ministry of Health, on the other hand, should equip pharmacies with proper screening thermometers to identify and refer patients promptly to hospitals.
The Ministry of Health should also share the information, education and communication materials to pharmacies so that people can easily access them.
Pharmacies should be considerate on the pricing of essential medicines or supplies and not capitalise on vulnerable citizens.
Washing hands with soap or hand sanitisers with running water is effective and will help prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
Apart from sanitising and eating healthy foods, the other recommended best practice to slow the spread of an outbreak is by staying away from other people, also known as social distancing. It gives a virus less opportunity to jump from person to person.
Together, Zambia can significantly curb the spread of the disease.

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