I was travelling to Wa from Kumasi one day. It wasn’t the first time I had made such a journey; my home was in Wa, and I used to go back after every vacation or when something important came up. The bus was still half-empty, and while waiting for new passengers, I decided to get some food. I informed one of the “station boys” loading luggage into the bottom compartment of the bus: it was possible the bus would fill up before I was back, and I wouldn’t want to be left behind. I hoped the driver and the passengers will be forgiving if I’m a little late, since the next stop from Asafo VIP bus terminal is Bamboi, 206 km (128 mi) away.
When I got out of the station to buy food, I noticed a small noisy crowd gathered around one of the buses that was parked across the road.
Putting aside the reason I came out, I was led by curiosity to them. Can you guess what the commotion was about? In the midst of the crowd was a woman who was wailing and rolling on the ground as if she had just heard that a close relative was dead. I inquired from one of the people around her why she was in such a state. He told me she had been “scammed” by a man who sold medicine to her. The man had claimed the medicine was a catholicon, that it cured all kinds of ailments and diseases. It all started when she was traveling one day and a man came into the bus to sell medicine, he mentioned various illnesses, describing many symptoms the medicine could cure and some of those were symptoms her daughter had been showing for a while. Being a loving mother who wanted to help her daughter get well, she decided to buy some for the girl. She didn’t just buy the medicine but made sure she bought it in large quantities because of the testimonies the “doctor”’ gave about the medicine.
One night, the little girl had an asthmatic attack and was rushed to the
hospital, she was attended to but it seem she was not getting any better. The mother who was taking care of her at the hospital would still hide and give her the medicine she bought in the bus even though the hospital workers were administering their medication on the girl. One evening, the nurse on night shift was suspicious about the woman’s behavior and decided to investigate. So when the mother left the ward, she questioned the little girl who told her about the mother’s medication. The woman was forced to hand it over to the nurse who later revealed that it was nothing other than aspirin. Aspirin like other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is not good for people with asthma, especially those who are overly sensitive. Her husband was furious when he heard what had happened and asked her to go get the man for him else she should never return home. That was why she was wailing on the streets of Kumasi on that sunny day looking for a man whose phone number did not exist. I don’t know how it ended for her because I had to leave or I would miss my bus.
Lately we have a lot of people selling all kinds of medicines everywhere: on the streets, in our vehicles, in traffic, on social media and so on. What beats my imagination is how they are advertised; how can one drug be able to cure all the ailments in the world. They will all tell you how their products are vetted and approved by the FDA. Surprisingly, people like us who should know better are those who end up patronizing their products. But when you look at some of the people who are doing the sales, they seem to be suffering from all the diseases they are mentioning but the medicine is not able to cure theirs. I don’t know about you, but the way someone who sells medicine presents her or himself (in terms of physical looks, dressing etc) to me matter a lot. When I see people who appear “sick” selling medicines, I remember the saying that if the naked offers to give you clothes, ask of his name.
Don’t forget that two things happen when you take medicine; what the medicine does to your body and what your body does to the medicine.
All medicines have side effects, which is why you have to be careful what kind of medicines you take and in what quantities. My pharmacist has warned me never to mix herbal medicines with orthodox medicines. Here are a few tips to look out for when you want to buy medicines or drugs. Don’t let anyone pep talk you into buying medicines or drugs that may not cure your sickness but may end up making your situation worse.
First, buy from a point of sale, pharmacy or a drug store. When you buy from a point of sale, you are able to trace the source of the drug in case there are any complications or issues. Even if you’re buying herbal medicines, there are specific and genuine points of sale where you can get some to buy. Most pharmacies will also issue receipts for every transaction that take place there, so with the receipts, you have evidence of name of pharmacy, date, time, name of drug and the amount you paid for it. I have never seen anyone selling drugs in the market place or in a bus issuing any receipts, and once they are not stationed at one particular place, you may never be able to trace them if you ever need them.
Secondly, make sure you crosscheck with your doctor before you buy or take any medication. Even if you don’t have ay doctor friend, check with
a nurse or any health personnel before you administrator any medication, in other words, it is important to have one of them in your contact list. This is because the symptoms of some diseases or sickness are similar and you may be suffering from one and taking medication for another which is a bit dangerous. For example, malaria and typhoid fever have similar symptoms and most people have often treated malaria instead of typhoid fever because the two have similar symptoms. The only way to be sure is to conduct a test. This will give an accurate result and doctors will be able to prescribe the right medication to manage your illness. Lots of researches are carried out and medicines have been laboratory tested before they are produced and administered.
Thirdly, always check the expiry date on every medicine or drug you purchase. Checking products for manufacturing and expiry date seem to be a difficult task for a lot of us, it is only once in a while that I remember to read labels of products and check for expiry date before I buy them. Or the only time I check is when I see that the sellers are running a promo and the prices are unusually cheap. No matter where you buy it from, always make sure to check the date it is supposed to expire even if it is from a pharmacy. This is because the people who work there are human and can make mistakes. Checking for expiry date will not take much time and effort, please always take note of that. Also be sure to check the container or bag containing the drug for breakages, leakages and so on as these can contaminate the drug and complicate things for you.
If it is syrup, make sure it is not opened, if it is a tablet, check to make sure it is not crushed. If it is a drug you have taken before and you notice a change in the packaging or in the colour of the drug, kindly ask your pharmacist.
The best alternative for medication is resting well, eating well, regular exercise and so on, and if after all this your doctors prescribe medication for you, don’t just buy your drugs from any source. Getting the drugs from the right source is the first step to getting well. Take the medicine as
prescribed because not taking the full dose of your medication can have a negative effect on your body. Also don’t mistake first aid for self medication, first aid is taking something to relieve a symptom while you wait for medical attention while self medication is actually trying to treat yourself (many of us are guilty here, let us bow our heads in shame). If you did not know, let me shock you, all medicines can be poisonous, as such they have the potential of causing harm. Also make sure to follow the diet instructions that come with your medication. CHEERS!!!