I love twitter and hate it, more precisely- I hate what it does to me. I have always been a child of anger, whipping sarcasm and sass and rudeness (in my parents’ opinion, never mine) into a formidable collection of quotes and pithy sayings that people remember me by, many decades later. Years of a certain thing called home training had taken the edge and flattened my sparkly bubbles of wit and made me someone who is often described as gentle and calm and quiet by majority of the people who ‘know’ me. But on twitter, the foolishness that is unleashed on that space in 140- word spurts always makes me tear off my figurative shirt and reveal the S on my chest.
This morning, a post I saw on Bellanaija took me to twitter to see the full story for myself. A mother put up a thread on how Strepsils for children caused her child to have night terrors and bleeding bouts, knowing that the components of Strepsils shouldn’t (in normal circumstances) cause such an effect, I wanted to see if there was something in her narrative that would explain the whole thing. The thread was slightly annoying but I plunged on in search of the truth and came up empty. I was about to leave the thread when I saw a reply she made that shocked me- “What was even more chilling was being told that Strepsils contain Alcohol, antibiotics and antiseptics!!!! They aren’t ordinary Strepsils.”
I tweeted at her, asking if she thought Strepsils was an ordinary sweet and telling her sore throat was a result of an infection. After pressing post, it hit me that a person without a medical background might not even know either of those things, they would also think having alcohol in a medicament is also a big deal as well as peddling other jagbajantis thoughts about drugs. I also remembered some of the truly annoying broadcast messages I have seen floating on WhatsApp, with ridiculous messages designed to induce fear in people about the use of certain medication and I was struck by the desperate need to put drug information out there and make it extremely accessible to the woman/man on the street.
Someone could say, why can’t the pharmacist give this information at the point of purchase of medication? Isn’t that his/her job, to dispense information as well as knowledge? Anyone who has observed the setup of community and hospital pharmacies knows that it is impossible to give all the necessary information to EVERY patient that comes along. Unfortunately, the pharmacy being the last port of call in the provision of healthcare means that most people who come there are already in a hurry and are most likely to be bad tempered. Aside that, the patient-pharmacist ratio makes giving adequate info to each patient- another pipe dream.
How do we get this info out there, I wondered? How do we get it into easily digestible bits that does not require specialized knowledge to understand? How do pharmacists bridge the gap and provide localised solutions to this? We have a plethora of foreign apps that come close but are ultimately ineffective- if the app doesn’t recognise jedi-jedi as a real thing, it is useless to half the mothers with very young children, in Lagos. If the app is speaking plenty grammar, it’s still useless. But most it be an app though?
Sometimes I hate the demands of the pharmacy profession but I never forget that it is to it I owe my first loyalty, besides spending more years than I care to remember on the journey to becoming one, it is also what pays for data and buys me nice things and gives me independence. I once ran a pharmacy themed blog but I lost interest in the thing and abandoned it, it struck me that I could reactivate it or even start something new- like a vlog, I just might go that route, despite my propensity for rolling my eyes when I talk about something passionately.
Maybe embracing social media more firmly and putting the right information across the platforms where people can access it in a more relaxed manner, might just be the way to go. After all, if we could have a list of banned malaria medication trend on WhatsApp (yes, I know it’s an instant messaging service and not a social network), the right stuff can trend too, right?