Reading through the pathetic story of Amina Ibrahim who unfortunately, died of Steven-Johnsons Syndrome at a young age of 14 years made me reassess the attitude of majority of us to “minor illnesses” and self medication. Common illnesses such as malaria and typhoid fever which are endemic in Nigeria due to the geographical location, are sadly and unknown to a larger group of people , deadly and if not properly handled, are quick to lead to death. I personally go the hospital once something doesn’t feel right. This is not because I have a lot of funds at my disposal but because of an experience that could have cost me my babies. My sons (both under 2 years old), had a fever a while back and you know the normal things people say, “its the weather”, “they must be teething” and all sorts of assumptions. The older one stopped gaining weight and instead, lost weight. Some said “he is just getting taller and its normal”. After taking them to a nearby hospital for malaria treatment, I was still not satisfied because no tests were run. I got them tested in a medical laboratory and I found out they were running short of the normal blood level children their ages should have.
Just imagine I did not take further steps, the case could have been worse off. Amina lost her life due to the incompetence on the side of the “chemist”. A certified pharmacist would have given her correct drug combinations or better still referred her to the hospital for proper checks. Sometimes we have to go that extra mile to ensure we don’t put our lives on the line. No amount of gambling or assumptions is worth our lives. Drugs are chemical formulations that have been researched and combined to specifications in terms of age, sex, health status etc. They can kill and heal. If Amina’s mother knew that trip to chemist was her daughter’s last, she would rather beg for money or do something else to ensure she remains alive today. We do not have to be victims before we learn. Medical doctors and pharmacists train for years to become licensed to practice. Its no joke. Drug dispensing is not art that gets better with time and constant practice. Enough said, lets be penny wise, pound wiser.