The health of Ugandans is under constant threat. If imported drugs are not expired, then doctors and other health workers prescribe wrong drugs – acting on poor diagnosis.
When people get the wrong antibiotic, not only are they often not cured but the bacteria evolve into a drug-resistant strain. This is a bold gamble on people’s lives. The report by Fleming Fund Project that 50% of patients in Uganda are prescribed antibiotics when actually they don’t need them is alarming and deserves immediate attention.
The antibiotics or antibacterials are medicines that terminate or slow the growth of bacteria. Unfortunately, according to the report, antibiotics have been prescribed for patients who suffer from viral infections such as flu, and cough.
These cannot work. The cause of this wrong prescription is wrong diagnosis. And poor diagnosis has been attributed to the lack of microbiological testing equipment. This calls for investment in diagnostic equipment.
The ministry of Health should make it a condition for all health facilities to have laboratories before they are approved to operate as clinics.
Patients need to insist on knowing why the doctor is prescribing antibiotics, and not any other alternative medicine. Patients need to be tough on doctors. The latter is not doing the former any favour by prescribing wrong medicine.
Patients also need to be adequately informed about their rights to know what kind of medicine is being administered. The doctor or any health worker has a duty to inform the patient about the positive and negative side effects of the drugs he or she is dispensing. It is the right of the patient to accept or refuse any prescription after being properly informed about the side effects of the medicine.
Taking drugs for a wrong ailment gives the hordes of bacteria more incentive to evolve and become resistant. Officials in charge of quality assurance in the health sector need to come to the rescue of the misdiagnosed patients.