- 1.1Background of the Study
It is apparent that self-medication is now practice that is prominent around the world, and the students of tertiary institutions are not left out. Self-medication, which is a common self-care practice; is often reported around the world. It is defined as obtaining and consuming drugs without the advice of health care professionals, either for diagnosis, prescription or surveillance of the treatment. Self-medication is what people do for their own selves to establish and maintain health, prevent and deal with illness (WHO, 1998). It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental factors, socio-economic factors and self-medication(AL Khaja et al 2006, Alano et al, 2009).
Self medication, as one element of self cure, is the selection and use of non prescription medicines by individuals to heat self recognized illness or symptom(WHO, 1998). It is the use of non-prescription medicine by people on the basis if their own initiatives. Husan and Khanum(2008) also defined self-medication as obtaining and consuming medication, without professional supervision regarding indication, dosage and duration of treatment. However, self medication does not necessarily mean the consumption of modern medicines, but also of herbs(parth et al, 2002).
Medicines for self medication are often called ‘non prescription’ ‘over the counter’(OTC) and are available without a doctor’s prescription through pharmacies. In some countries, OTC products are also available in supermarket and other outlets. Medicines that require a doctor’s prescription are called prescription products(R*PRODUCTS). Self medication with OTC medicine is sometimes referred to as ‘responsible’ self medication to distinguish it from the practice of purchasing and a prescription medicine, without a doctor’s prescription. Self medication is widely practiced both in the developed and developing countries. As a result, medication may be approved of being safe, for self medication by the National Drug Regulatory Authority.
Studies revealed that there is an increase in the trend of self medication, particularly among the youth. This can be attributed to socio economic factors, lifestyle, ready access to drugs, the increased potential to manage certain illness through self cure, greater availability of medical products, socio demographic, epidemiological, availability of health care and health professionals, law, society and exposure to advertisement,high level of education and professional status.(Alano et al 2009)
Moreover, knowledge of drugs and their use are the main causes of self medication, especially among youths and undergraduates (Al Khaja et al 2006). In economically deprived countries, most episodes of illness are treated by self medication(G/Mariam and Worku,2003)
In a number of developing countries including Nigeria, many drugs are dispensed over the counter (OTC) without medical supervision. In this case, self medication provides a lower cost-alternative for people who cannot afford the cost of clinical services. The common episodes for which most people go for self-medication include, but not limited to colds and flu, heartburn, infrequent and difficulty of passing out stool, minor skin problems, insect bite and many others, (G/Marian and Worku, 2003). Though the practice of self-medication is as old as mankind itself, little has been exploited. If used appropriately, self-medication could lighten the demand on doctors and make people more health conscious. However if abused it could delay accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, and could cause toxicity, side-effects, drug interaction and un-necessary expenditure (Arzi et al, 2010).
Nowadays people are keen to accept more personal responsibility for their health status and to obtain as much sound information as possible from expert sources in order to help them make appropriate decisions in healthcare. Pharmacists have a key role to play in providing them with assistance, advice and information about medicines available for self-medication.
Moreover, the internet is emerging as a major source of information on health issues and (with appropriate control) offers a great promise in helping people with self-care. The type and extent of self-medication and the reasons for its practices may vary from country to country. In developing countries, both modern and traditional drugs are commonly use for self-medication. Even though, self-medication is a useful tool to treat minor ailments, improper self-medication practice or medication abuse may lead to serious adverse drug reactions and possibly fatal consequences. Moreover, currently there is a worldwide concern about the emergence of antibiotics resistant strains of micro-organisms, which might have been highly argument by self-medication.
There is therefore a need to know the prevalence, determinants and risk factors associated with self-medication practice among undergraduate and to device appreciate educational, regulatory and administrative measures, alleviating the public health risks arising from improper practice of self-medication.
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