From research to healthcare: Your Pharmacist is at your service

By Bakani M. Ncube

Pharmacists are and have always been the custodians of medicine and our extensive training makes us the most knowledgeable health care professionals when it comes to medicines and their use but that role is evolving with each passing day as we take up a more varied role in the healthcare sector.

The theme for this years’ World Pharmacists Day, “From research to healthcare: Your pharmacist is at your service” was selected and rightfully so by the FIP and the theme “reflects the numerous contributions the pharmacy profession makes to health. From research and development of medicines, to educating future pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists, and providing direct care, we do all this in the service of our patients and communities” says FIP President, Dr. Carmen Pena.

The provision of direct care does not begin in a hospital when a patient has been admitted or in a community pharmacy; it begins in a laboratory with research. Taking care of our patients, our fellow human being, starts with the acknowledging and the recognition of health issues of populations and developing medicines, policies and education to tackle them. Currently, an emphasis is being placed on pharmacists as being the “backbone of health care in many different settings”.

“We the pharmacists are often there at the beginning of the process – when the first molecule that effectively treats a disease is identified” explains Dr. Pena and this is a fact that has been proved over the years, the statement brings to mind the biography of Eli Lilly and company (1876 – 1948). He was a pharmacist whose company was the third largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in the world on its fiftieth anniversary in 1926 owing to the research they were carrying out that led to insulin. The Lilly Company’s contribution was the movement from a small scale laboratory production of insulin to large scale manufacture after the research work carried out by a team from the University of Toronto. This was a genuine partnership between science and industry and pharmacists were at the forefront of this work. In 1924, J.K Lilly proudly wrote, “The days of Creek Indian remedies were gone, replaced by an expertise and a confidence that encouraged aggressive searching for sophisticated and efficacious new drugs and new ways to manufacture them”.

Research is the systematic investigation, including testing and development, designed to develop and contribute to generalizable knowledge. An increasing portion of human research is now becoming information based with clinical trials being the most common form of health research.. Research techniques and findings have evolved continually throughout the last century and we have had our part to play in this.

Ensuring research is an integral part of the healthcare system and it encourages all professionals to question and rationalize clinical management. It creates a culture of continual learning and development and assists us to learn more about our chosen area, to have confidence in the treatments we are offering and to learn from our patients. Evidence has shown that patients who receive care in research active hospitals have better health outcomes owing to research active institutions offering wider treatment options and more opportunities to be included in clinical trials. This highlights the importance of research to overall service delivery, to us as pharmacists being at our patients service.

A lot of work has been done and is still being done as far as research goes and the onus is on us to ensure that research and development continue to occur for the benefit of our patients who rely on us for medical interventions.

 ncubebakani@gmail.com

Role of Pharmacists in transformation of research to health care

By Nyasha Mazorodze

Thoughtful contemplation of human morbidity and related mortalities elicited the interest of various members of the health care team to ensure human health. Since pharmacists focus on the safe and effective use of medication, they are important pillars of health care. Pharmacists exhibit their services in a wide variety of approaches ranging from being involved in research to the provision of health care directly to the population. Therefore, they play a crucial role in the transformation of research to health care.

In order to make proper clinical decisions pertaining drug research, pharmacists play an integral role. In the case of an outbreak of a certain unknown disease, pharmacists play a major role in research during the development of the medication necessary to eradicate that disease. For example in 2014, there was an Ebola outbreak in West Africa and research was prioritised in order to develop a vaccine which has an immune response against Ebola virus surface protein. As such, pharmacists are able to use similar clinical and biomedical research in order to control and prevent spread of diseases. Pharmacists are also involved in clinical tests during the drug development to ensure safety of the patients and monitoring for any side effects and unwanted reactions.

Dispensing drugs is also one of the areas traditionally taken care of by pharmacists. Drug abuse is tremendously becoming a problem nowadays and therefore pharmacists must only give certain medications to patients who really need the medications after they supply a proper prescription from a medical doctor. Pharmacists also carry out research on prescription of drugs and this will help them understand the impacts that certain drugs have on different individuals. This will help them to maintain health safety and reduce the effects of drug abuse and drug addiction. Pharmacists will also be in a position to counsel other medical practitioners on the expected side effects of some drugs and recommending counter measures thus ensuring the health care of the community. After research has been conducted some regulations pertaining prescription of drugs are put in place to ensure the safe use of drugs by the patients.

Encouraging the proper use of medication and also promotion of health is one of the main roles of pharmacists. Perhaps, the leading cause of drug resistance is improper use of drugs. An example is not completing a prescribed course of medication. This will lead to adaptation of pathogenic bacteria to low dose medication and eventually a form of a population that is unresponsive to the medication no matter the dosage. To ensure that drugs are properly used, pharmacists must counsel the patients and encourage them to use medication appropriately as well as enlightening them on possible effects of not using the drugs properly. Research is therefore conducted by pharmacists on the reasons for some of the improper uses of medication so that they educate them basing on that information. In the event of drug resistance, research is carried out by pharmacists in order to develop new medication to replace the one available thereby ensuring the health care of the community.

Passing by a pharmacy is very common especially in urban settings. As such, there is a misconception with the majority of people that the profession of pharmacy is only concerned with the traditional way of dispensing drugs. However, “From research to health care: Your pharmacist is at your service.”

nyashamazorodze15@gmail.com

References

Dixon MG, Schafer IJ, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ebola viral disease outbreak–West Africa, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2014; 63: 548–51

AHSF drug information, 1999, American Society of Health System Pharmacists, 7272 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814.

Meinolf Kuper and Helen Tata. Bamenda, Cameroun. (1989). Guidelines for Managing a Pharmacy (unpublished)

These are areas where Pharmacists apply their skills and knowledge

By Azeh Goodness

In the past, one’d think of a pharmacist as an individual in the retail pharmacy who fills his or her prescription. This traditional role of pharmacists was managing the production and dispensing of drugs. Pharmacists have only been considered dispensers, and not providers and thus their practice has been limited. Their Patients often viewed them as trade merchants and not as healthcare professionals.

Today, howbeit, this role has evolved to an individual who works side-by-side with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in highly, specialized practice settings to assure appropriate medical therapy management.

Indeed, effective medicine cannot be practiced in isolation with efficient drug management– and that is not far away from what the pharmacist seeks to engender. Their contribution to healthcare is contingent upon their in-depth knowledge, their researches and their expertise in drugs and drug-related matters. From a basic education which has risen significantly over the years– shifting from a bachelor of science (BSc.) degree to a doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree– to a formally designated period of supervised pre-registration practical experience, pharmacists acquire a broad understanding of the scientific principles and techniques of the pharmaceutical sciences and the ability to keep pace throughout their careers with developments in medicine and pharmacy.

Pharmacists can, therefore, apply these knowledge and skills in such areas as below

Diagnosis
This is done by performing or obtaining necessary assessments of the patient’s health status.

Formulation of treatment plans​
Since disease treatment goes beyond drug intake alone to nutritional, psychological, and physiological curative efforts, the pharmacist can formulate a holistic remedial plan.

Optimal therapeutic function
With the development of specific and potent synthetic drugs, the emphasis of the pharmacist’s responsibility has moved towards the provision of personalized therapies to meet unique medication needs.

Provision of follow-up services
By ensuring adequate monitoring and evaluation of patients, a comprehensive medication review is established to identify, resolve and prevent medication-related problems, including adverse drug events.

Education of patients
As custodians of drug-related information, pharmacists are able to provide informed advice on the use of prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, as well as provide population-based care in Institution settings.

Education of other health professionals
The pharmacists can advise physicians, nurses and other health workers on medication therapy decision.

Drug formulation and quality control
The understanding of the principles of drug interaction and potential side effects, as well as the techniques in quality assurance, equips pharmacists towards ensuring the formulation of standardized pharmaceutical products.

Drug regulations and control
With the proliferation of hazardous and easily-abused drugs to public consumption, the pharmacists can help ensure that strict regulations are maintained.

Medical record management
They ensure proper documentation of the care delivered and also communicates essential information to the patient’s other primary care providers. This eases future treatment engagements.

Strengthening health care economics.
Pharmacists help appropriate the intricacies of the distribution chain and the tenets of efficient stock-keeping and stock turnover. They are equally familiar with the pricing structures applied to medicinal products, and that puts them as important economists.

Policy Making
Given their wide knowledge-base, pharmacists can fit properly into national and institutional​healthcare policy formulation committees.

Conclusion
The phrase “ask your pharmacist” is increasing becoming common– and with good reason. Pharmacists are integral part of the health care community and serve as an important source of knowledge and this is evident in their flamboyant presence in healthcare delivery.

ezehgoodness@gmail.com

From research to health care: Your Pharmacist is at your service

By Ekpoh Mfonobong

Pharmacy is the art, practice, or profession of preparing, preserving, compounding, and dispensing medical drugs. Howbeit, this noble profession has evolved over the years with its development and expansion resulting in a profession more diverse than was previously seen. Its areas of expertise span a great width. Thus, the robustness of the profession buttresses the need for diversification, in order to facilitate provision of better services to its populace. Different fronts of the profession include:

  • Research and Development Pharmacy
  • Industrial Pharmacy
  • Hospital Pharmacy
  • Community Pharmacy
  • Social and Administrative Pharmacy
  • Pharmacists in the Academia etc.

The choice of a specialty gives more knowledge, helps one to contribute extensively and maximize all opportunities available for self-improvement.

Furthermore, the paradigm shift of the profession from product-oriented to patient-oriented with researches and modifications of already existing policies has led to the current Pharmacy philosophy- Pharmaceutical Care (PC). PC is the responsible provision of drug therapy for the purpose of achieving definite outcomes that improve a patient’s quality of life (Hepler and Strand 1990). This philosophy has greatly improved rendered services, as such, in whatever specialty, improving the patient’s quality of life is the focus. So in case you are wondering, “Why strive to do better?” “Why the quest for more knowledge?” “Why enact policies to improve already set strategies?” The answer is not far-fetched- “We are at your service!”

Pharmacists play key roles in clinical research. In this era of collaborative practice terms, these researches may address important questions that facilitate improved patient care or service delivery, without specifically advancing Pharmacy practice, but still contributing to the scientific literature as a whole and may add little to the entire health care system (Sheri et al 2011). These research results are harnessed to improve the quality of life of patients. Pharmacists have been exposed to science and according to Bertolt Brecht, “The aim of science is not to open the door to infinite wisdom but to set a limit on infinite error.” With the knowledge obtained, both from new medical researches and those peculiar to practicing environs, pharmacists persevere to facilitate its application in healthcare. This shows the usefulness of enacting new policies and continually assessing strides achieved in a given time to seek further ways of improving healthcare.

From research to healthcare; a lot of work is required. Rendering service to anyone requires diligence; no wonder Iroquois Maxim says; “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” With this, Pharmacists have a duty towards self and the populace despite varied responsibilities among the different areas of expertise. Saddled with the responsibility of achieving the best medication treatment outcomes for patients, ensuring cost-effectiveness and safe therapy, Pharmacists are medication experts. Services such as Clinical researches (Antimicrobial Stewardship Programmes, Global Health Issues); Pharmacogenetic therapy (individualization of therapy according to genetic makeup of a person); Modified release forms of tablets produced by Industrial Pharmacists for concordance; training future health professionals; Pharmacists involvement in creating awareness for the existence, treatment and prevention of diseases; Patient education, counseling and provision of expertise information about drug composition and posology; Pharmacists involvement in policy making and actualization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) etc show our values.

Conclusively, the holistic view of the pharmacy profession reveals the different aspects that are paramount for an all rounded practice. Notwithstanding that diversities of this practice exist, the efforts of each aspect of the profession is channeled towards meeting the health care needs of the society and to which end we can proudly say, we are your pharmacists and at your service.

mfonobongekpoh@gmail.com

References

Sheri L Koshman and Joseph Blais (2011). What is Pharmacy Research?. Can J Hosp Pharm.; 64(02): 154-155

Rwandan Pharmacy students in a public health campaign

By Fabrice HUMURA

Rwanda Pharmaceutical Students (RPSA) conducted the first ever health camp in Kayonza district under the theme: INCLUSIVE ENGAGMENT TO A HEALTHY LIFE. Kayonza district is in the eastern province of Rwanda about 91.9 km from the capital Kigali. If you have been following the associations’ Public health activities, you may realize that the campaign was not far different from other previous ones where people were screened and counseled on blood pressure, blood glucose and body mass index.

From 28th July to 1st August, pharmacy students under the umbrella of RPSA embarked on the unprecedented public health campaign dubbed “Health Camp”. This was designed primarily to approach citizens in remote areas of the country where most of them have no clue on their health status. They were first and foremost educated on different subject such as nutrition, non-communicable diseases, hygiene and water sanitation to name just a few.

The eminent non-governmental health organization, Partners In Health got interested with the initiative and came to grace the event by sponsoring the health camp not solely this one but as well to make it a continuous event in upcoming years in various places of the country.

The RPSA President Mr Alphonse Mbarushimana attests that the camp went beyond expectations as preparations as well as execution were both impeccable. He said: “Citizens in Kayonza district were happy as most of them didn’t know how to keep their body healthy. We found as well some critical scenarios of high blood pressure where we referred such cases at hospitals.”

Throughout the health camp which took place in various sites of Kayonza district, more than 650 citizens were screened and received medical counseling in accordance with their results. Like other previous campaigns run by association, the health camp was in partnership with Rwanda Diabetic Association which work closely in terms of training and aid at the field.

Pharmacy students measuring Blood pressure

One of pharmacy student Enock Twizerimana who was volunteering in this event affirmed that the health camp gave him an opportunity to explain the role of pharmacist which is wrongly understood in society. “This event redefined the role of pharmacist where most still think that pharmacist’ role is limited to dispensing medications. While helping the people we kept on explaining that a pharmacist like any other healthcare provider, primarily concerned with the health of people by providing the necessary advice to keep them healthier.”

Non-communicable diseases are on the rise around the globe and dismally mostly in developing countries people live with such diseases unknowingly. With these kinds of awareness especially in rural areas where most people are illiterate and uninterested for regular checkups, public health campaigns are of great impact.

Mr. Fabrice is a Pharmacy Student at University of Rwanda.
College of Medicine and Health sciences.
Email: Humurafab@gmail.com
Twitter: @fhumura

IPSF AfRO anti- skin bleaching campaign

By Geofrey Beigana

Lightening the skin to become fairer seems to be a common practice among dark skinned populations globally. According to the Question & Answer website, Quora; low self-esteem, racism, societal pressure are some of the reasons why people bleach their skin. Societal pressure is said to come from women and not men. Fair-skinned individuals in society tend to be regarded as better looking, beautiful or handsome.

Although there is proven evidence on dangers of skin bleaching, many people especially women in Africa still continues to use skin lightening products. Some of the dangers of skin bleaching includes; increased risk of skin cancer, acne, dermatitis, etc. The World Health Organisation estimates that nearly 77% of Nigerian women uses skin lightening products.

It’s against this backdrop that the IPSF African Regional Office (AfRO) through its Regional Projects Office, has started a public health campaign against skin bleaching. The campaign dab “Beauty Beyond Colour” aims to sensitise the public on the dangers of skin bleaching, how to identify bleaching chemicals and to have confidence in their skin colour. The campaign will be conducted on social media and will feature voices from AfRO members on skin bleaching.

Look out for these chemicals in cosmetic products such that you don’t use them unknowingly.

What is skin bleaching?

Skin bleaching is the intentional use of chemical substances to lighten the skin tone /complexion by reducing the amount of melanin present in the skin. Melanin produced by the cells in the skin known as melanocytes is the protein responsible for the dark/tanned complexion. The variation of skin colours among people is mostly due to variation of the content of melanin in the skin.  Generally, dark skinned people produce more melanin than white people. Melanin has multiple advantages in the skin including giving the skin its colour and protecting the skin from the damaging effect of sun rays.

The writer is the Regional Projects Officer of IPSF African Regional Office. rpo@afro.ipsf.org

 

Integration of orthodox and complementary medicine in Africa: 7 ways it can be done

By Denis Mumwi
TAPSA, Tanzania

Health delivery system is the coordination of institutions, resources and people involved in health care services provision to meet the health needs of the population. Transformation of health delivery systems in Africa aims at improving the delivery of services to Africans.

Integration of orthodox and complementary medicine in health delivery systems focuses on bringing changes and improving health delivery by making mainstream medicine and non mainstream medicine work together.

Orthodox medicine involves services provided by healthcare professionals who have attained educational qualifications as required by the curriculum, while complementary medicine involves health care practitioners with non curriculum qualifications.

The following are aspects with suggestions which can be targets through which integration of orthodox and complementary medicine can be established to bring transformation of health delivery systems in Africa as they are the main aspects that bring challenges;

1.Registration and licensing of health delivery practitioners

The legal system should be accessible and cooperative in the registration of traditional or complementary medicine practitioners as they face hindrances in accessing the legal bodies because they are less prioritized compared to orthodox medicine practitioners. Good registration system will avoid false health delivery experts and build trust in the society.

2. Environment for delivery of health services

Most of places for traditional healing are poorly located – they are difficult to reach as they can be caves or in the midst of huge forests giving a hard task to the sick. Traditional healers should be located in areas that can be easily reached by people in order to ease health delivery. Appropriate location is important for both orthodox and complementary medicine.

3. Diagnosis prior to treatment

Diagnosis of the problem before treatment will help in increasing the accuracy of treatment for both orthodox and complementary medicine. Complementary medicine healers should be assisted to know proper diagnostic procedures as many symptoms are similar for different diseases. This will improve the quality of health services.

4. Medicines, efficiency of treatment and cost effectiveness

There should be testing for safety of medicinal substances to ensure the right dosage at the right time for the right condition at affordable prices. Pollutants should be minimized especially in complementary medicine to enable quantity measuring and thus the efficiency of treatment is increased.

5. Information and equipment technology

Patient records should be well recorded so as to monitor the progress of treatment which is helpful for knowing its efficiency, controlling its side effects and assessing its compliance. Also, proper and sterilized equipment should be used to prevent spread of diseases. This should be an obligation for both orthodox and complementary medicine.

6.Education to successive generations

There should be proper teaching techniques to help in the passing of knowledge from one generation to another, especially for complementary medicine where traditional healers are reluctant to teach others. Complementary medicine should be included in the education curriculum and taught in classes as this will preserve the knowledge and also lead to innovations of treatments.

7. Medical researches

This will improve treatment as new discoveries rely on research. This should be encouraged especially for complementary medicine where research is not prioritized.

Conclusion

Complementary medicine provides a base for orthodox medicine as it gives preliminary clues to treatment. Hence the integration of orthodox and complementary medicine enhances the transformation of health delivery system in Africa.

dmumwi7@gmail.com

Transformation of health delivery systems in Africa with the integration of orthodox and complementary medicine

By Ekpoh Mfonobong
PANS, Nigeria

Africa has about 54 countries divided into regions: North Africa, Sahel, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa. The continent’s continuing struggle with communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB), parasitic diseases and poor primary and obstetric care has been a major factor in stalling the development and extension of healthcare services in African countries at even the most basic level (Janssen 2011). The healthcare delivery system has a role to play in Africa’s experience of disproportionate burden of poverty, disease, and death with appalling disparities within and between countries (Kaseje 2006).

Health is an integral part of life and its expedient that Africa’s healthcare system is re-assessed for viability. Orthodox medicine in its own sense, trains general medical practitioners to comprehensively treat the whole patient and to refer to specialists only when patients present ailments exceeding the knowledge and skills of the practitioner. Moreover, consumer-led demands for alternative therapies allow many people to seek care from a wide variety of traditions, each of which has its own anecdotal claims of success (Touyz 2012). Hence, integration of orthodox medicine with complementary medicine would be valuable.

Africa is a continent blessed with vast herbs whose medicinal value knowledge is handed down through generations, alongside the benefits of alternative medicine practices such as acupuncture, biofeedback etc. Previously, traditional medicine was presumed to be dangerous and produce side effects, which would be treated by orthodox medicine or lead to deterioration of the patient’s health. However, only decoctions, herbal products sourced from inappropriate centers, or products used in unidentified disease conditions and with insufficient advice on therapy regimen result in such scenarios (Asare 2016). Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) and different excipients are obtained from nature. Correcting the wrong notions of complementary medicine, and accepting it the way orthodox medicine has ‘won the heart’ of most practitioners, would make appropriate integration less challenging.

More products from nature are being produced and marketed, with claims to be effective in treatment of various diseases, eg Gingko biloba proven to benefit brain function; moringa seeds, leaves and extracts proven to contain phytochemicals beneficial to health. Also, acupuncture has been effective in stress management. For better healthcare systems, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of orthodox medicine by various pharmaceutical companies are monitored timely. Similarly, for improved desired outcomes on patients’ quality of life, SOPs of herbal medicines should be regulated too, to prevent interference with the pharmacology of orthodox medicine. To spike interest in future healthcare professionals, alternative medicine should be taken more seriously in our institutions, with well-balanced tutoring on its basics and the benefits of its integration. Also, herbalists and other professionals of complementary medicine should become members of the healthcare team. Moreover, a balance in the basic knowledge of both medicines is necessary for these professionals.

These natural products and techniques in combination with orthodox medicine would speed up recovery, boost health and general immunity, increase appreciation of the blessings of nature and help reassess the cost of wellbeing in order to accommodate all strata of the economy. Also, standardized complementary healthcare would provide affordable healthcare for vulnerable groups as most times patients purchase medicines at high cost compared to their standard of living.

Health must be viewed as a central element of productivity rather than as an unproductive consumer of public budgets (Kaseje 2006). The ‘tides’ in healthcare demands of Africans are changing, our system is at a turning point, thus, all hands must be on deck as this course is an all-encompassing one.

mfonobongekpoh@gmail.com

References

  1. A Presentation on ‘Healthcare in Africa: Challenges, Opportunities and an Emerging Model for Improvement’ by Dan Kaseje, Great Lakes University of Kisumu, November 2006.
  2. An Article on ‘Herbal Medicine vs Orthodox Medicine, The Wrong Attitude’ by Bentil Asare, 2016.
  3. Louis ZG Touyz (2012). Alternative and Orthodox Medicine and the “ODD” Principle. Curr Oncol.; 19(02); 64-65
  4. The Future of Healthcare in Africa. A Report from the Economic Intelligence Unit sponsored by Janssen, 2011.

 

Integration of orthodox and complementary medicine: China has done it, Africa can do it too!

By Peris Thuo
KEPhSA, Kenya

Africa, My Motherland! She has evolved over the years from the exclusive use of traditional to embracing modern medicine. The world is watching as our continent strives to live up to its full potential in areas such as healthcare, education and infrastructure.

Health care delivery systems involve structured organizations of people, institutions and resources to ensure that the health needs of a target population are met. This remains to be an enormous challenge in Africa in areas such as leadership, governance, financing and accountability. The international finance corporation estimates that 25 to 30 billion US dollars are needed over the next decade to meet healthcare demand in Africa.

Complementary medicine refers to the health practice that approaches knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal, mineral-based and spiritual therapy. These are either applied alone or in combination in diagnosis, disease prevention and maintenance of well being. We are now at a time where history is repeating itself and many patients are opting for complementary medicine. This is due to frustration for lack of cures for chronic diseases, affordability and accessibility. In addition, patients feel that they have more control over management of their treatment when using alternative treatment options and alternative medicine is viewed as safer than conventional medicine.

Effective incorporation of complementary medicine to health care systems would require proper policy and regulation. This is a big challenge in my country Kenya as it is estimated that nine in ten herbalists are fake. Most of these fake herbalists are based in our capital, Nairobi. They exploit vulnerable and gullible patients, mainly those suffering from chronic illness for commercial gain. This has contributed to the lack of faith in complementary medicine by the general public.

There is need for establishment of trust between health researchers and the genuine herbalists in order to successfully achieve this. Genuine herbalists are mainly based in the village. They are very skeptical about sharing their formulas with researchers for fear of exploitation. An ancestral aspect is also involved as most of these formulas have been passed from generation to generation. They fear that commercialization would not appease the ancestors. Trust has to be established between the two parties through establishment of proper policies to ensure that the genuine herbalist is protected.

Kenyatta National Teaching and Referral Hospital, Nairobi is the biggest of its kind in East and Central Africa. Research was conducted in the hospital to analyze the number of patients who use complementary medicine in addition to modern medicine. It was found that a number of inpatients would take their complementary medicine at night after the nurses had administered prescribed drugs and left the wards. Majority had not informed the physician that they were on these drugs. Reasons cited were: the physicians never asked, they would not understand, they would disapprove and the overall relationship between the physician and the patient would be affected.

Complementary medicine cannot be successfully incorporated if the physicians themselves have no faith in it. There is need for continuous medical education about the benefits of complementary medicine. Regulation of these medicines is crucial in ensuring that physicians can readily prescribe them to patients without hesitation.

Funding of complementary medicine research is mandatory. It is not possible to incorporate it to healthcare delivery systems unless all the necessary research and trials have been carried out. New delivery systems ought to be developed. A change in mindset is needed.

China has done it, Africa can do it too!

perrythuo@gmail.com

 

 

 

Wanderlust: Here are the health benefits of travelling

By Bakani M. Ncube

Wanderlust is one of my favourite words; a noun with German origins meaning ‘a strong, innate desire to travel about and to rove’. In this article, we will consider the health benefits of travel.

Nowadays, most people are forfeiting their vacation despite stress, anxiety and other negative effects of not taking time off at work. Experts state that “apart from depriving yourself the chance to enhance your productivity & work performance, avoiding taking a break can lead to stress overload and other potentially damaging effects on your health.” A vacation will offer you the chance to relax and results in the restoration of your overall wellbeing. Travelling to foreign lands will allow you to immerse yourself in new surroundings, boosting your brainpower and fully recharge. These are both smart moves for mind, body & soul.

Travelling will recharge you emotionally and increase your empathy especially when your vacation is near a water body. According to Wallace J. Nichols, “often associated with feelings of awe and wander, water can boost our empathy and compassion, our connection to ourselves and those who we are with, and for many – from musicians like Pharrell to neurologists like Oliver Sacks – it’s a steady source of creativity and insight.”

When you are on vacation, you are often more active compared to when you are in your usual routine. As we are more inclined to try new activities and some cities are so picturesque you tend to wander down the cobbled streets through narrow alleys for hours on end. The emergence of fitness-centric resorts that encourage guests to get fit and try new workouts to boost physical and mental health away from home are another way that travel will result in you getting in shape.

Dr Margaret J. King says that “there are a lot of psychological benefits from a change of venue from home and work to ‘third places’ devoted to just experiencing the environment. With a short list of activities each day, freed from the complexity of ongoing projects & relationships, the mind can reset, as does the body, with stress relief being the main outcome. Humans thrive on novelty and travel offers the complete package with new faces, sounds and sights.” Vacations give us that time for much needed sleep, they are an opportunity to wind down and rest up. As a pharmacy student, most nights are spent up till late resulting in little sleep and high stress, both contributing to irritability and negative repercussions on cognitive performance and efficiency. Max Hirshkowitz, the chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reiterates the importance of vacations as he highlights that a “vacation is a great opportunity to catch up on sleep” and to feel more energized.

Diamond Resorts International (2014) found over three quarters of respondents reporting feeling happier when they planned a trip at least once a year. When on vacation, there is a reduction in the release of stress hormones which degrade our mental, physical health and the nostalgia long after the trip will trigger happiness. Overall, there is a boost in mood from the trip.

We seldom consider that there are scientifically proven health benefits to travel. A partnership between Global Commission on Aging & Transamerica centre for retirement studies with the US Travel Association found that travel leads to a healthier life. Their study found that women who vacation at least twice a year show a significantly lower risk of suffering a heart attack than those who only travel once every six years or so. Men who do not take an annual vacation show a 20% higher risk of death and a 30% greater risk of heart disease.

Lastly, having gypsy blood will lover depression – healthier alternatives are available for escaping the hopelessness of a depressed state and travel is one such healthier alternative. With this arsenal of knowledge on your side, the question on my mind becomes “Where will you go?” Do yourself a favour. Before it’s too late, without thinking too much about it first, pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it. One day it will be too late.

Bakani M. Ncube is the outgoing SEO of the Zimbabwe Pharmaceutical Students Association (ZPSA), the current CP of ZPSA and an International Campus Ambassador for the WHSS 2017.

ncubebakani@gmail.com