Follow doctors’ drug doses, patients told

National 2 minutes, 32 seconds


HEALTH professionals are facing issues of chronic disease patients not taking their prescribed medications, which can worsen their conditions.

Hj Mohd Khalid Hj Zolkipli, pharmacist at the Ministry of Health, said patients need to adhere to prescribed treatment for chronic conditions as drug doses are required to be taken continuously, rather than manage their own doses based on worsening or alleviating symptoms.

“We are facing a problem of non-compliance (with following treatment protocol). Failure to comply can bring dangerous risks to the patient, whose condition can worsen and result in re-admission to the hospital, and proves costly to our healthcare through the extra treatment needed,” he told The Brunei Times earlier this week.

The pharmacist declined to give the percentage of non-compliant patients, but noted that cases in Brunei often follow the trend of patients taking drugs on an "as needed or required" basis, based on their personal judgement of symptoms.

“Some conditions, until they truly worsen, can be symptom-less. There have been patients who have diabetes or high blood pressure, and been prescribed daily doses of medicine but choose not to follow because they feel their symptoms are alleviating or don't even notice any symptoms,” he said.

In the worst of these cases, nerve damage, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke have been noted in non-compliant patients.

Hj Mohd Khalid also explained that there is no silver bullet to solve the problem of adherence, which is observed globally.

"The reason there is no one-stop solution is because the problem itself exists for a multitude of reasons.

“Some of the reasons patients may stop or modify dosing are because of forgetfulness, perceived side effects, psychological issues, peer pressure (or advise), changing life events or circumstances, lack of communication or misunderstanding between patient and doctor.”

The Ministry of Health, in a bid to address the issue, has drawn up measures, including a year-long series of pharmaceutical and medicine roadshows across all four districts.

“Judging from what you can see from our Belait roadshow, there are plenty of questions on medicine dosing from all sectors of society; from young students to elderly grassroots leaders,” he said.

Speaking from the perspective as the healthcare provider, Hj Mohd Khalid urged patients to ask doctors or pharmacists about their medication if they feel confused about dosing or side effects.

“The truth is that the cumulative time a patient with chronic conditions spends in a doctor's office will only be a fraction in comparison to the number of hours they spend outside it living their lives,” he said.

“Patients need to feel that they can trust the information about the treatment received and understand their role in taking medication very clearly.”

In Brunei-Muara, public inquiries about medicine, side effects and dosage can be directed to the Pharmacy Section of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha Hospital at 2223765 and Pengiran Anak Puteri Muta-Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah Health Centre in Gadong at 2428246.

Tutong residents can call Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah Hospital at 4220956 and for Belait the Suri Seri Begawan Hospital at 3340424.

The Brunei Times