Introduce prescription drug audits – CUTS

THE Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) has advised Government to introduce “prescription drug audits” to monitor and restrict the use of medicine by health practitioners and pharmaceuticals.

CUTS centre coordinator Simon Ng’ona said in a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday the prescription drug audit is important because it will help consumers from being at the receiving end of the misuse of drugs by medical practitioners.
“There is also need for closer monitoring of doctors’ behaviour at the micro level. This should also be accompanied by introducing efficient and effective audits systems of prescriptions.

“All stakeholders should stand firm on this issue and ensure that this measure is effective,” Mr Ng’ona said.

He said the introduction of the prescription drug audit should be complemented by tightening up of the regulatory system to monitor the affordability and quality of drugs coming in Zambia.

Mr Ng’ona said health consumers are at the mercy of “unscrupulous” health practitioners and drug companies because of competition to sell medicines and services in the loosely regulated industry. He said the failure to enforce health related laws undermines access to better health among the citizens.

CUTS, as a body which fights for pro-consumer policies across sectors including health, deems it fit to demand for a prescription audit because the measure exists in countries like the United Kingdom and United State which have well functioning health systems compared to Zambia, Mr Ng’ona said. He said there is also need to enhance consumer awareness programmes on health issues because health illiteracy exacerbates the misuse of drugs.

According to Healthy People 2010, “health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”

Mr Ng’ona said low levels of health literacy are a significant problem for health consumers in Zambia and this is alarming because low levels of health literacy are a danger to society. “It is also reported that those with low health literacy are at a greater risk of hospitalisation than those with high health literacy,” he said..

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