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Why patients are choosing google and chemists for treatment over doctors

By Graham Kajilwa | Published Tue, February 27th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 26th 2018 at 22:59 GMT +3

Biting shortage of doctors in public hospitals is pushing Kenyans online for self-medication.

More Kenyans are going online to search their symptoms and corresponding prescriptions.

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“I am actually one of those who do that, especially just to be sure of the symptoms and to ascertain that what I could be suffering from is not serious," said Dorothy Ooko, Google head of Public Relations.

According to Ms Ooko, many Kenyans are turning to Google search engine for solutions to their ailments.

Besides the shortage of medical officers, Ooko attributes use of Google by many to poor relation between doctors and patients.

“Many of doctors do not allow questions. Some do not even tell patients of the side effects of drugs and so patients head to Google for more information,” she said.

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Armed with the online prescriptions, patients then turn to local chemists for quick, over-the-counter drugs.

Former Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya President Paul Mwaniki agrees that more Kenyans are turning online for prescriptions.

“The question would be why would anyone spend close to four hours seated waiting to be treated in the hospital and probably the ailment is not even serious according to their assessment,” said Mr Mwaniki.

Though a good number of over-the counter prescriptions work, data by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) has put residents of Nairobi and South Rift region on notice.

According to available data, the two regions lead in the number of unregulated outlets and personnel selling drugs.

As such, the board warns that more patients in these regions are likely to receive wrong over-the-counter prescriptions.

Since May 22, 2016 the board has been carrying out raids in the two regions.

By February 16, this year, up to 89 arrests were made in Nairobi and 105 outlets were closed.

In South Rift, 137 arrests were made and 151 outlets closed.

The crackdown is ongoing.

“These outlets pose a great danger to members of the public as they can potentially end up giving wrong medications, wrong dosage, poor quality medicines or give wrong advice to the public with regard to medicines they are taking,” said the board in its report.