The Lagos State Government sealed the premises of a maternity centre in Ikorodu. What was the offence? A quack who had been operating the centre accidentally pulled out a baby’s hand during a botched delivery.
After it became clear to Oyekanmi, the fake nurse, that she had made an irreversible error, she advised her client’s husband to take the patient to the General Hospital in Ikorodu.
Your guess is as good as mine, though the mother survived the harrowing ordeal, the baby eventually died.
Unfortunate incidents like this occur every day in a developing country like Nigeria were quackery is a real menace. If I may ask, who treats you when you are sick? Is it the local chemist around your neigbhourhood or the ‘efficient nurse’ who comes to your home to give you injections and drips?
Is your ‘doctor’ the traditional healer who gives you nameless concoctions that can cure diabetes and cancer? It is no longer new that many Nigerians are receiving treatment from unqualified persons who have no training or knowledge in anything related to medicine. If such persons are the ones you consult whenever you are sick, experts say that now is the time to stop as their ‘intervention” would only worsen your condition.
Consultant Family Physician and Medical Director, Wellbeing Hospitals, Ajah, Lagos, Dr. Segun Aderibigbe, says that many people have developed chronic health conditions after they patronised such unskilled persons. He blames the activities of illegal drug operators for the increasing cases of drug resistant malaria and typhoid fever in the country.
According to him, many of them often dispense wrong drugs for their patients worsening the health condition of their patients.
“When you go to a quack that you are sick, he/she is not thinking about your well being. He/she is more interested in how much they can quickly make off your situation.
“They will make sure they say you are positive to these infections, so they can give you drugs. Many of them give wrong medication. A patient once died of a drug overdose that was given to him to treat high blood pressure by these quacks.’ He adds.
Studies have even shown that there are more illegal drug store operators than the legal ones in Nigeria.
Pharmacist, Ifeanyi Okechukwu, says even though drugs from these questionable sources come cheap, their effects on an individual’s health may last forever.
He says,“ There is this saying in pharmacy, the bitterness of low quality drugs stays after the sweetness of the low price has gone. Buying and taking drugs from unauthorised persons or illegal chemists is just like buying food and eating it while you are blindfolded. You can be poisoned.”
Okechukwu notes that many of these drug stores are usually operated by unqualified personnel who have no knowledge on how best to guide you on the usage of any medication.
He states,“It is only in a registered pharmacy that you can be guaranteed that you will be attended to by a pharmacist who can give you drug information and medication advice. “Drugs interact with each other either negatively or positively, it’s a pharmacist that can tell you what to do or what not to do. Which food to avoid while taking such drugs and the ones not to take. You won’t get that from a chemist where the owner may not even be educated.”
Okechukwu explains further that drugs sold in these premises are often gotten from manufacturers of fake drugs who sell to them at very cheap prices.
He adds,“ Anybody who patronizes an illegal trade cannot be assured of safety or quality. Manufacturers of fake medicines often go through these channels to sell such drugs. They know their business or intentions won’t be questioned. More so, you are not just harming yourself, you are also aiding and abetting illegality.’
Another pharmacist, Mr. Yinka Aminu, linked the patronage of illegal drug business which fosters the sale of substandard medicines to the increasing incidence of chronic illnesses such as liver and kidney problems.
Aminu says,“ Many operators of these illegal drug outlets prescribe drugs that you do not need because they want to make profit. They give you antibiotics, potent drugs that they don’t know how it works or its side effects.
“Medicines are supposed to solve problems, not create them. Today, we are talking about the spread of chronic illnesses like kidney and liver problems, a lot of these problems could be traceable to the uncontrolled proliferation of medicine stores. When medicines are available everywhere, people tend to abuse them.”
He notes that even when the drugs are not fake, they may not be safe because these outlets do not store drugs under the appropriate conditions.
Aminu says,“ They want to remain illegal because they are not ready to conform to standard pharmaceutical practices. When medicines are exposed to heat and other harsh conditions, they are as good as poisons.”
So how do you know a registered pharmacy? It is simple, Aminu says they have an Rx emblem , a mark of authenticity used by members of the pharmaceutical association in the country.
He adds, “There is an emblem that is used to identify registered pharmacies from illegal ones. Please look out for this sign when you want to buy any drug.”
Source: The Punch Newspaper