Pharmacy Students Raise Awareness About Chronic Illnesses
The theme for this year’s Pharmacy Week was: “Chronic Diseases – Take Control” and UKZN third and final-year Pharmacy students tried to do just that on the Westville campus, mounting posters and doing blood pressure tests on members of the University community.
They also promoted awareness, prevention and early diagnosis of chronic illnesses such as anxiety, arthritis, cancer, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, hypertension, insomnia, lung disease and obesity.
‘Early prevention is best,’ said final-year students, Mr Lethu Chonco and Ms Kylie Winterburn, who promoted health screening as an important part of disease prevention.
Winterburn said Pharmacy was an integral part of any healthcare system because pharmacists were often asked to make medical recommendations when patients asked for advice.
‘Our posters today contain all relevant information about the signs, symptoms and treatment of chronic illnesses.’
Both Chonco and Winterburn said they enjoyed practising their counseling skills by passing on information about the importance of managing chronic diseases.
According to the South African Pharmacy Council, a chronic disease is a long lasting condition which although may be incurable, can be managed.
Many chronic diseases can be improved by making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating vegetables and fruits as often as possible; being physically active for 30 minutes a day at least five times a week; not smoking or using tobacco products; reducing salt and sugar intake, and taking medication correctly.
The SAPC says a pharmacist can help patients understand how to take medicine correctly ie. medicine should be taken in the correct dose, in the correct way, at the correct time; and the course should be completed. Also medicine should not be shared and pharmacists should be consulted if there is any doubt
‘The assumption is that pharmacists only work with prescriptions but in fact they are instrumental in public health awareness campaigns,’ said Ad-hoc Pharmaceutical Sciences Lecturer, Ms Neeri Ramchundar.
There was an impressive turnout of staff and students at the blood pressure testing stations during the campaign.