Contents

1. Definition of Self-Care and Self-Medication
2. Potential benefits of self-care/medication
3. Potential risk of self-care/medication

1. Definition of self-care/self-medication
  a. WHO’s definition of Self-Care
  WHO defines self-care as; “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider”.

The scope of self-care as described in this definition includes health promotion; disease prevention and control; self-medication; providing care to dependent persons; seeking hospital/specialist care if necessary; and rehabilitation including palliative care.
   
  b. The Self Care Forum’s definition of Self-Care
  The Self Care Forum, a registered charity in England and Wales, defines self-care as;
“the actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.”
   
  c. WHO definition of Self-Medication
  WHO guideline “Guidelines for the Regulatory Assessment of Medicinal Products for use in Self-Medication“ defines self-medication as follows;

“Self-medication involves the use of medicinal products by the consumer to treat self-recognized disorders or symptoms, or the intermittent or continued use of a medication prescribed by a physician for chronic or recurring diseases or symptoms. In practice, it also includes use of the medication of family members, especially where the treatment of children or the elderly is involved.”
   
  d. Annotation by APSMI
  The terms self-care and self-medication seem not to have been used very consciously, as indicated by the fact that WSMI was renamed GSCF without perceived change in the activities of the organization. Nevertheless clearly self-care is a more comprehensive notion including self-medication and other attitudes and actions not related to drugs. Despite the definition in the WHO’s guideline indicating taking at home drugs prescribed by medical doctors and dispensed from the pharmacies, it should be clearer if self-medication is more narrowly defined as a form of self-care to use drugs obtainable and usable on individual’s decision (not ruling out health care professionals’ advice).
   
2. Potential benefits of self-care/medication
  2-1 In general
  A. WHO WHO’s “Guidelines for the Regulatory Assessment of Medicinal Products for use in Self-Medication“ cites the following potential benefits;

-Individual level-
Efficacy: i.e. the product does what it is claimed to do
Reliability and safety
Product safety
Acceptable risk
Wider availability of medicines
Greater choice of treatment
Direct, rapid access to treatment
An active role in his or her own health care
Self-reliance in preventing or relieving minor symptoms or conditions
Educational opportunities on specific health issues (i.e. stop-smoking aids and products to treat heartburn)
Convenience
Economy
   
-community level-
saving scarce medical resources from being wasted on minor conditions
lowering the costs of community-funded health care programs
reducing absenteeism from work due to minor symptoms.
   
  B. AESGP
  The Association of the European Self-Care Industry (AESGP), in one of the sections on its webpage named “Responsible self-care: a win-win solution” summarizes the benefits nicely. Here are the headings;
 
Empowered individuals
Efficient ailments management
Improved well-being, whatever our age
Better availability
More efficient, less stressful, less time-consuming
Better resource allocation
Lower costs
Better return on investment:
   
  2-2 Economical/financial benefit
  CHPA reports the results of studies on benefit on the nation’s healthcare expenditure on its Webpage named “Over-the-Counter Medicines Create a Healthier Healthcare System”. According to the Webpage, a study independently run in 2018 examined the value of OTC medicines across a large set of alternatives such as prescription drugs and office visits and found OTCs save billions of dollars across the healthcare spectrum.
   
   
3. Potential risk of self-care/medication
  WHO guideline “Guidelines for the Regulatory Assessment of Medicinal Products for use in Self-Medication“ cites the following potential risks, with a caveat that many of these risks are not unique to self-medication: they can also occur in the prescription situation.
   
 
-Individual level-
Incorrect self-diagnosis
Failure to seek appropriate medical advice promptly
Incorrect choice of therapy
Failure to recognize special pharmacological risks
Rare but severe adverse effects
Failure to recognize or self-diagnose contraindications, interactions, warnings and precautions
Failure to recognize that the same active substance is already being taken under a different name
Failure to report current self-medication to the prescribing physician (risk of double medication or harmful interaction)
Failure to recognize or report adverse drug reactions
Incorrect route or manner of administration
Inadequate or excessive dosage
Excessively prolonged use
Risk of dependence and abuse
Risks at work or in sport
Food and drug interactions
Storage in incorrect conditions or beyond the recommended shelf-life
   
 
-community level-
improper self-medication could result in an increase in drug induced disease and in wasteful public expenditure.