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COVID-19: Medics Warn Public Against Buying Medicine Combos Over The Counter

Idro says people should not buy dexamethasone and Prednisolone which are one of the drugs on the combo lists of pharmacies as treatment for COVID-19 explaining that the drugs increase one’s risk of developing diabetes and can worsen those already battling the disease.

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The resurgence of COVID-19 with daily infections skyrocketing to a thousand or more cases and gazetted treatment isolation centers filling up has had the public panic into stocking drugs for either treatment or prevention.

But experts have warned that the issue of stocking holds a bigger danger to the public.

Dr. Richard Idro, the President of the Uganda Medical Association says as a result of the scare many pharmacies around the city have even formulated lists of medicine combinations (Combos) that one can take from home once tested positive.

Some of such drugs that have been popularized for treatment of the viral respiratory disease include zinc, azithromycin, Vitamin C, Dexamethasone, but doctors say not everyone that tests positive needs any form of treatment. 

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For the asymptomatic who comprise over 80% of people testing positive, doctors say they need to feed well with plenty of fruits and vegetable, hydrate often with recommendations of up to three liters of fluids each day, get at least 30 minutes of sun exposure every day and exercise as the disease will clear on it’s on without having any medicine. 

Dr. Idro says people should not buy dexamethasone and Prednisolone which are one of the drugs on the combo lists of pharmacies as treatment for COVID-19 explaining that the drugs increase one’s risk of developing diabetes and can worsen those already battling the disease if taken without doctors’ analysis and recommendation.

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For vitamin C for instance which people continue taking in error to prevent infection, the Ministry of Health earlier this year discontinued its use even among admitted COVID-19 patients after their analysis found it to have disastrous effects on patients.

Dr. Bruce Kirenga, a lung expert who works in the COVID-19 treatment ward at Mulago National Referral Hospital said the drug was very toxic and yet it wasn’t effective in treating the disease. Many people who had been using the drug showed up in hospital at the brink of developing kidney failure because of its continued use.

In addition to the drugs, Dr. Robert Lubega, another doctor at Mulago reveals that out of desperation individuals are opting to purchase oxygen cylinders to keep them at home and yet wiring one onto oxygen requires thorough analysis which should be done in a hospital setting.

However amidst this danger, pharmacies around Kampala continue making a killing out of the combos. When Uganda Radio Network (URN) visited some of the pharmacies in Wandegeya smaller packs containing a mixture of these drugs goes for between Shs50,000 and Shs.100,000 and the bigger packs depending on what is contained therein can go for as much as Shs200,000.

But Dr. Idro says that instead of the public spending on non- prescribed dangerous drugs, they should instead invest in small gadgets for measuring temperature and oxygen levels in blood.

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Constant monitoring he says will give one pointers on at what point they need to involve a health worker or run to the nearest hospital.

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Currently, according to latest Ministry of Health figures released last evening, 784 people are currently admitted in hospitals around the country with COVID-19.  The majority of the positive cases are either asymptomatic or mild and are self- treating from home.  

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