Lots of people especially in Africa, Nigeria believe in the wrong notion that self medication or prescription is appropriate so long as the illness is not a serious one and going to seek a medical professional is a means to save spending and the habit is reserved for those in foreign countries. Mayo Clinic, has described Stevens-Johnson syndrome as a “rare, serious disorder of skin and mucous membranes” that is usually “a reaction to a medication or an infection.” It is, “Often, said that Stevens-Johnson syndrome begins with flu-like symptoms, followed by a painful red or purplish rash that spreads and blisters. Then the top layer of the affected skin dies and sheds.”
The death of 14-year-old Amina Ibrahim, after reacting to a combination of drugs that she took is an eye opener for the need to avoid self Prescription.
According Motunrayo Joel the dangers of self-prescription and Stevens-Johnson syndrome, is rare but a dangerous medical condition that can be triggered by self Prescription and late consultation from professional medical practitioners. Recounting the narration of Mariam who lost her daughter Amina to this syndrome, she stated that Amina’s health problems began when she started reacting to the drugs she bought from a local drug dispenser in their neighbourhood. These drug dispensers are called ‘chemists’ across Nigeria.
Amina resided with her parents in Dala Local Government Area of Kano State, and developed body pains after taking the drugs. Mariam stated that she told Amina to go to that particular chemist which she and her children usually patronise. She says “We do not have money. I am a housewife while my husband is an electrician. We feed on the little money my husband makes on a daily basis. I have five children; we cannot afford to be visiting a hospital every time we are ill. My daughter complained of cold and cough which made her visit the chemist to get some medications.”
Precisely, On May 26, Amina and her younger brother went to the chemist in Dala council area. She told the chemist what was wrong with her. The 19 year old chemist son prescribed an antibiotic, Septrin, to Amina, claiming that it would relieve her of her discomfort. Later in the evening of that day, Amina took the drug (septrin) and within an hour, her lips and tongue got swollen and her eyes became red. “The pain was unbearable for her. We did not know what to do. I had to check the expiry date on the drug sachet to be sure it had not expired. But I could not find any date, ’’ she said.
She further said Amina returned to the chemist the next day to complain of her reaction to the drug and was told that Amina was developing symptoms of chicken pox and that she would need to be placed on injection and other drugs to fight the ailment. We heeded his advice, believing he was an expert in health matters.
The chemist gave Amina a combination of drugs which included paracetamol, ciproxin, puriton, ciprotob and blood tonic to treat the chicken pox.
Immediately she completed her injection doses, things got out of hand. My beautiful daughter changed into someone I could not recognise. Her face turned black as if she got burnt. Her health also deteriorated daily,” she said.
Amina Ibrahim’s mother, Maryam, stayed by her daughter’s bedside, knelt down, praying loudly in Hausa, as hot tears soaked her black hijab. But her prayer was futile. Her daughter didn’t rise up to pacify her. Fourteen-year-old Amina was dead. Despite the doctors and other hospital workers attempt to save the fourteen-year-old’s life.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a life-threatening skin condition that disfigures the body before finishing off its victim. Research done by clinical pharmacists has shown that self-prescription is one of the commonest forms of drug abuse in the country.
Alot of people have slightly survived or died resulting from lack of awareness about this reaction. On may 16, 2016 Mariah Adejokun a 24 years old British-Nigerian beauty queen,almost died from a rare allergic reaction to eye drops that was given to her by her doctor in London which caused her skin to fall off. She had gone to see the doctor because of an itchy eye but ended up in a medically-induced coma for a month., Marian once came second in Miss Teen Africa beauty pageant.
A Chief Pharmacist at the Food and Drug Information unit, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile-Ife, Abiodun Adigun, warned that the condition was on the increase in Nigeria. He also said the condition affected all age groups, races but was more common in females than males.
Recently, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, alerted the public on the need to increase awareness and knowledge of this disease with the aim of preventing it. People with a weakened immune system either as a result of an organ transplant, HIV/AIDs and autoimmune diseases such as lupus are at increased risk.”