In one of my clinical rounds in Mulago Hospital, I met Layet (not real name) a 67 year old female patient. Layet has been living with diabetes for the past 2 years. One morning while in her garden, she got pricked by a thorn on the right arm. She didn’t think of going to a health center immediately. After 3 days she noticed a swelling on the pricked hand and oozing pus. She then decides to seek medical attention, but it was too late, she already has an infection and it was spreading towards the shoulder. To cut the story short, she was amputated to stop the infection from spreading.
This is a classical example of an ill informed patient. If she was educated about diabetes and all its complication, she could still be having her right arm intact.
Most of us go to public health facilities where health care workers are few and overworked. The time a patient takes to interact with a doctor or any other health worker is so much reduced. This means patient education is inadequately done.
But are we going to wait for the government to address the human resource problems while watch people die or get complications because of lack of basic health information?
How much effort are you putting to be informed about health issues? We are lucky to live in era where access to information is just a click away. I have seen televisions, radios and newspapers with many health programs. Are we utilizing them to increase our health knowledge?
I am not saying you go and read about all the diseases in the world. Basic knowledge about the common diseases, first aid, and drug information will do you a lot of good. You never know that particular information that will prevent you from getting hypertension or cancer.
The need for information about a particular disease is even more paramount if you’re suffering from it or close relative and if it is a chronic disease. Try your level best to learn about the risk factors, prevention, complication and drugs if any. Most drug packages come with an insert (I am talking about that leaflet you find inside the box of a drug) that has information to guide both the doctor and the patient in the use of the drug. What a patient need to know about a drug includes: side effects, interaction with food, herbs or any other drug, when to expect results and storage.
It’s my prayer that we should take it upon ourselves to be informed about matters of our health.