People in Pakistan love to self-medicate. We have a habit of prescribing ourselves and our loved ones medicines and remedies based merely on hearsay. And when that habit causes more harm than good, we warn people to avoid taking those drugs. But this information doesn’t always reach authorities who could make a difference.
“There’s no culture in Pakistan of reporting adverse consequences of using a drug,” said Dr Rafeeq Alam, the dean of Pharm D at Ziauddin University. Dr Alam was speaking at an event organised to mark International Patient Safety Day by Bayer Pakistan on Wednesday.
But who does the onus of reporting lie on? Patients often don’t know who to go to or how to report, the panellists at the event said. As a result, many stop taking their medications if they have a bad experience.
“Compliance by patients is 24% in Pakistan,” said Dr Riaz Qureshi, a professor of family medicine at the Aga Khan University.
He encouraged people to question their doctors to educate themselves on their diseases and treatment. Dr Qureshi also advised people from changing their pharmacy too frequently and stressed on training pharmacists about giving out drugs.
“Provision of information to the patient is the prime responsibility of the physician,” said Indus Hospital Quality and Monitoring Directorate Executive Director Dr Abdul Basit Baig.
He said the Indus Hospital would soon be starting a certification programme for doctors, nurses and staff on patient safety. Dr Baig also said we need to have drug information centres for the general public.
“There is a culture of polypharmacy in our country,” Dr Waqar Ahmed Assistant Director DRAP Karachi said while speaking about how doctors prescribe a cocktail of different medicines to their patients without considering drug interactions.
“Community pharmacists would greatly help with adverse drug reactions,” added Dr Mahrukh Mughal, Assistant Director CDL DRAP Karachi.
Bayer Pakistan had organised the event to bring together experts from the medical and pharmaceutical industries to discuss how technology could play a role in improving patient safety.
The company also launched SafeTrack, an online platform where people could report adverse effects of its products.
“As a leading pharmaceutical company, patient safety is one of Bayer’s core values and our highest priority. This event and the launch of SafeTrack demonstrates Bayer’s commitment to ensuring the safety of current and future patients and consumers,” said Dr Imran Ahmad Khan, CEO and managing director of Bayer Pakistan.
Lack of patient safety is the 14th leading cause of death, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Every minute at least five people die because of unsafe care, says the WHO. Unsafe practices affect millions of patients, resulting in the deaths of 2.6 million of them every year in low-and middle-income countries, the organisation says. These can include anything from harm inflicted as a result of substandard healthcare practices to side effects of prescribed drugs.