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The Killid Group
Non-prescribed drugs in NangarharWritten by Zaland
Sunday, 13 March 2011 10:27
Pharmacies and drug stores in the eastern Nangarhar Province are selling different kinds of medicines to customers without doctor prescription which sometimes result in severe health conditions, local people and health experts warn.
From painkillers to sleep pills people can buy all kinds of medicines from the pharmacies based on the unprofessional advise they receive from friends and relatives in a bid to heal their health problems.
"We are illiterate and don't know the risks of non-prescribed medicine," said Azimullah, a resident of Nangarhar's Khewa District, while waiting outside a state hospital in Jalalabad city.
He said he bought medicine from a local drug store as per a neighbor's recommendation for his diseased son. "Instead of curing his illness the medicine exacerbated his condition and forced us to bring him to the hospital," he said.
A woman seeking treatment at the same hospital said she took non-prescribed medicine to cure a headache but said her problems only worsened.
Doctors at the hospital said they were advising people not to take medicines without prescription from an authorized medical practitioner. "Despite our warnings and advice some people continue using non-prescribed medicines," said Gul Mohammad Nayel, a physician.
Poverty has been cited as a main reason for the people who buy non-prescribed medicines. "We are poor and cannot afford a doctor's fee and too many prescribed medicines," said Jamaludin, a resident of Jalalabad city. He alleged that most doctors had business associations with the pharmacies near their private visit-rooms and were prescribing expensive medicines to their patients.
When asked why they were not bringing patients to the free of charge state hospitals and clinics, several people outside the Jalalabad hospital alleged that government healthcare services were very poor. Backed by donors, the Ministry of Public Health says it is delivering free health services to over 80 percent of the country.
Officials in the provincial Department of Public Health (DoPH) said they were trying to stop the selling of non-prescribed medicines by the pharmacies. "Apart from a few general medicines, we have warned all the pharmacies to avoid offering people medicines without a prescription," said Baz Mohammad Sherzad, director of Nangarhar DoPH.
The DoPH has called on the Imams and local elders to raise public awareness about the harms of non-prescribed medicines.
Prescriptions also have legal implications for health practitioners, as they may indicate that the prescriber takes responsibility for the clinical care of the patient and in particular for monitoring efficacy and safety, health officials said.
Meanwhile, a representative of the provincial pharmacists consulted by Killid repudiated claims the pharmacies were selling sensitive medicines without a prescription.