In Taiwan, 25 percent of those persons who see a doctor are prescribed medicines, compared to 10 percent in developed countries, but there is still a question of what percentage of patients really needs to take medicine?
On Wednesday, the Department of Health held a press conference to promote the notion that medicine is not a panacea. Inappropriate use of medicine not only has no effect on the illness but also leads to side effects, the DOH said, adding that people need to take the right steps to take care of their health.
The first step to being healthy is to exercise and to maintain a healthy diet so as to strengthen resistance to illnesses, the DOH advised.
"We need to have the concept that when you have a serious illness, you go to hospital; when you are moderately ill, go to a clinic and when you just feel a little sick with something like a runny nose, go to a pharmacy," said Liao Chi-chou, director general of the Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs. "This general rule is important to optimize the efficiency of medical resources."
"Take myself for example, I have high cholesterol but if I jog 500 steps everyday, I can lower my cholesterol by 50 points," said Janice G.T. Chen, chief of the Department of Pharmacy at Sun Yat- sen Cancer Center. "For most illnesses, you don't need medicine in the initial stage; taking medicine is only one of the means to cure an illness."
Chen said that there are five questions people should ask before taking medicine: What is the name of the medicine? What effects does it produce? How should you take it? How long do you need to take it? What important points need their attention?
Asking these five questions can help avoid harmful effects such as allergies, Chen said.
If you have a headache, runny nose or sniffles, you usually don't need medicine. If you have a more serious illness like tuberculosis, then medicines are necessary.
To spread the concept of taking medicines the right way, the DOH has organized an outdoor party at Da Jhih Entertainment Park Water Dance Square to be held tomorrow. Pop singers SAYA, XL and Hi-5 will perform and some DOH personnel will be available to answer questions.