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Remember International Self-Care Day: 24th July 2014

Remember International Self-Care Day: 24th July 2014

If you haven’t yet heard about self-care or are still unsure about what it entails, then the phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’ perfectly highlights the objective of self-care.

Allison Vienings, the Executive Director of the Self-Medication Manufacturers Association of South Africa (SMASA), describes self-care as “The adoption of healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, healthy eating and responsible self-medication into your daily life. By exercising and making healthier lifestyle choices, you can reduce the risk of being diagnosed with certain lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.”

International Self-Care Day’s aim is to create awareness about self-care – what it is, the value it has and ultimately to urge the general public and government to recognise self-care as a vital part of general good health or improved health. The date is also ideally suited to the campaign’s core message - that self-care should be experienced 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or 24/7.

“The average South African may not be able to afford private healthcare and relying on state services puts strain on government funds and facilities. Self-care and self-medication provides an alternative to improve overall health and treat minor injuries and illness – alleviating some of the pressure placed on government funds as well as saving you money on frequent visits to a doctor,” says Vienings.

Medicines that do not require a prescription can become a danger in terms of wrongful self-medicating or possible abuse and dependency. Although consumers are not expected to be trained healthcare professionals, following basic guidelines when it comes to self-medicating assists in the responsible use of over-the-counter medication.

Here are a few tips for safe and responsible self-medication:1

• Medicines should be of proven safety and good quality. If in doubt, check with your healthcare professional.
• Before attempting to self-medicate, users should determine whether their condition and symptoms can be managed through self-care and self-medication, or if expert advice and medical treatment from a healthcare professional is needed.
• Be extra cautious when the elderly, pregnant women and children are involved.
• Always adhere to the directions for dosage and duration of use on the product packaging and enclosed leaflets.
• Speak to a healthcare professional such as a pharmacist, doctor or nurse to obtain as much information as possible to ensure safe and responsible self-medication.

Self-care and responsible self-medication means knowing when it’s necessary to see a doctor or pharmacist, and not to rely solely on self-medication products. SMASA urges healthcare professionals and consumers to play their part this International Self-Care Day and spread the word for better health through self-care. Click to view a handy medicine cabinet checklistc of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and products that you may want to have on hand to treat minor illnesses and injuries at home.

1. http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/s7/