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Why self-medication is rampant in Kibera



The prevalence of self-medication in Kenya, particularly in areas like the Kibera slum, is a concerning issue. Individuals are resorting to self-prescription without consulting medical practitioners due to various factors, including the high cost of living and limited access to healthcare facilities. This practice can have serious consequences for people’s health and contribute to an increase in antimicrobial resistance.

Alfred Muturi, a resident of Kibra narrates to Pamoja fm his experience with self-medication.

“When I feel sick most of the time I pray, If the symptoms persist then I go to a nearby chemist to describe how I feel and the chemist recommends the drug, sometimes I have a specific drug in mind based on my personal experience. I only go to the hospital when I feel worse after 2-3 days” added Alfred


Samwel Owino  a resident of Kibra echos the same sentiments

“ When I don’t feel well, especially a headache I usually take a lot of water and if the symptoms persist I just go to the nearest chemist and buy Maramoja or Panadol”

“When I have stomach upset I quickly run to the chemist to buy Flagyl because from my experience it’s effective,” added Owino.


Nancy Atieno a resident of  Kibra narrates her personal experience with self-medication

“ Most of the time I only go to the hospital after several attempts from  using over-the-counter drugs, but  I  rarely  go to the hospital because after buying medicine from a chemist I usually feel better”

“But I have  had an experience where  I bought drugs for malaria but they didn’t work When I went to the hospital it was Amoeba added Nancy

The story highlights the experiences of Alfred Muturi, Samwel Owino, and Nancy Atieno, who all engage in self-medication for various ailments. They often rely on their personal experiences and assumptions to choose medications from local chemists. While this might provide temporary relief in some cases, it can lead to misdiagnosis, inappropriate treatment, and delayed proper medical care.

Nurse Christine Achieng from a medical facility in Kibra emphasizes the risks associated with self-medication. She notes that patients often come to the hospital with assumptions about their conditions, and some even use over-the-counter drugs with alcohol, which can be harmful. The misuse of drugs without proper medical guidance can render them ineffective and lead to more health complications.

November 24, 2022 – The Pharmacy and Poisons Board has warned Kenyans against engaging in self-medication and maintaining the culture of purchasing medicines as prescribed by licensed healthcare professionals to avoid falling prey to antimicrobial resistance which is a threat to public health globally.

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board’s in warning against self-medication aligns with global concerns about antimicrobial resistance. When antibiotics and other medications are not used correctly, they can lose their effectiveness over time, making it harder to treat infections. This poses a significant threat to public health on a global scale.

To address this issue, it’s important for the government, healthcare organizations, and communities to work together to raise awareness about the dangers of self-medication. Access to affordable and reliable healthcare services should be improved, and individuals should be encouraged to seek professional medical advice and treatment. Additionally, educating the public about proper medication use and the risks of antimicrobial resistance can contribute to safer healthcare practices.



Charity Kilei
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