The correct dispensation of medication to the communities of Sierra Leone is paramount to ensure a safe and healthy nation. At Magbenteh Community Hospital we are working hard to prevent drug resistance and the global phenomenon of self-medication.
In Sierra Leone the adult illiteracy rate is 41%, according to the United Nations Development Programme, therefore it is paramount that the detrimental consequences of self-medication are properly explained through the sensitization of local communities in order to avoid unnecessary use of drugs without medical guidance and ensure a proper understanding.
The legal requirements of Sierra Leonean law (Pharmacy and Drugs Act 2001) state that medicine must not be dispensed from a pharmacy without a prescription, however this is very hard to regulate and consequentially allow for untrained personnel to establish pharmacies as business opportunities.
At Magbenteh Community Hospital we see the damaging consequences of self-medication and antimicrobial resistance, threatening the effective prevention and treatment of infections caused by parasites, bacteria and viruses. In both our in and out patient wards we stereo-typically see increased morbidity; acute abdominal conditions such as stomach ulcers and liver damage; skin rashes; allergies and drug defiance (especially in relation to malaria and typhoid self-diagnosis).
Our medical team recognise the desperate need to enhance awareness and implement legislation in collaboration with the Government of Sierra Leone and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, to promote the safe practice of treatment prescribed by medical personnel in a health facility. When treating patients our Doctors and Community Health Officers try their upmost to only prescribe the necessary medication rather than excess and multiple ones. Additionally, our staff work hard to communicate to patients the importance of completing the entire dosage, as we regularly see patients stop taking their treatment after symptoms have subsided within the first phase.
The pharmacy at Magbenteh Community Hospital tries to keep the costs for medication as low as possible, as we are fully aware that financial constraints are one of the major factors for self-medication. However, this is extremely difficult with the instability of Sierra Leone’s economy, especially when procuring from suppliers each month, to ensure cost-recovery and greater patient services for the local communities we serve.