Poverty and Self Medication: Implication for Health Seeking Behaviour in Bende Local Government Area in Abia State, Nigeria

Uyang, Francis Abul, Ph.D; Omono, Cletus Ekok Ph.D Abanbeshie Jeremiah A., Ph.D; Uyang, Benjamin Uzembe & Bassey, Augustine Eze Ph.D


Majority of people belonging to the poor strata avoid visiting doctors even at public hospitals because they cannot afford to purchase medicines. Apart from those who live below poverty line, even people belonging to middle class prefer self-medication to avoid payment of medical fees and diagnosis charges. The paper posited that health seeking behaviour sum up individual characteristics, nature of the environment in which a person lives and the interaction between individual and ecosystem. Self medication and poverty are closely linked with lower social classes because of their likelihood to engage in risky or unhealthy life styles and hardly consult physicians or doctors and indulging in self medication. The increasing level of self medication practice among Nigerians is a major challenge which required urgent attention. The objectives of the study were to examine the influence of low income on self medication and to determine the influence of unemployment and self medication among the people in Bende local government area of Abia State. Two null hypotheses were formulated in the study. Using the survey research design, data were collected from 120 selected respondents. The data were statistically analyzed using ANOVA statistical test at 0.05 significant level. Findings from the study showed that low income exerts significant influence on self medication among the people in Bende local government area in Abia State; also unemployment significantly influence self medication among the people in Bende local government area in Abia State. The study recommended that health care providers should educate patients on the dangers of self medication. Such messages should be extended to the community at the local level through public seminars, conferences and awareness programmes, periodically by government health ministries. Government, NGO’s and healthy individuals should contribute in subsidizing health care to enable low income earners and unemployed to access health care and shun self medication. Also, government should enact and enforce legislation which limits the sales of over the counter drug (OTC) without prescription, limiting it to only few relatively harmless ones. There is need to create awareness about existing health facilities so that patients will know where to go when the need arises thereby minimizing the potential resort to self medication. Equally, the study recommended that further research is needed to disentangle the complex relations between poverty and self medication.

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