By Moma Sandrine
In the 21st century Cameroon, a lot of people still resort to taking medications without proper examination. This in some cases may have worked but in a majority of cases has resulted to further complications. To this effect, The SUN caught up with Timah Dawuda, a laboratory scientist at the Timah Diagnostic Centre in Nkwen -Bamenda to find out the risks associated with taking medications without a proper lab test.
The SUN: What the health implications of taking medications without conducting a lab test?
Timah Dawuda: Firstly, doing a lab test is very important because it gives the exact infection that you have and thus; it’s easier to prescribe a specific drug to a specific infection. If you don’t do the test and you go taking a drug, you may risk taking medications for something else other than the infection you are suffering from. There are many infections with similar signs and symptoms for example typhoid and malaria portray similar signs, it will be risky to take medication for Malaria whilst suffering from typhoid.
Does that mean someone suffering a simple headache should go for a lab test?
Of course, normally if you are suffering from a headache or a fever, those are just symptoms of an infection. So you might be taking say paracetamol to treat what you think is an ordinary headache but it refuses to go away because it could be a symptom for typhoid and as such, no matter the amount of paracetamol you take, the headache keeps reoccurring. So it is advisable you visit a doctor who will recommend that some specific lab tests be done on you.
Don’t you think it’s rather too expensive for an ordinary Cameroonian to get tested at every slight health disorder?
I don’t think so, if you buy the wrong drug for a particular infection, you might end up in the hospital thus causing you to spend more. If yu had initially used money to do a lab test, you might have spent less than taking series of medications trying to treat what you do not know. It is important to know what you are treating. We understand that most Cameroonians live below the poverty line that is why my institution offers a 50% reduction for every lab test done with the hope that it will encourage the population to get tested before taking medications.
What’s exactly is the motivating factor for the 50% reduction in lab test?
I actually conduct some tests for free and others I give a 50% discount because I know that most inhabitants of Bamenda do not know the importance of doing a laboratory check up. In most cases, someone only goes for a lab test when he/she can barely stand on their feet. So I am giving out this discount so that people can be motivated to get tested at all times because you might be suffering from an infection you are not aware of. Being a laboratory technician, I also offer counseling and organize health seminars which I think are necessary to maintain a healthy population.
As a laboratory technician, what is your assessment of the Bamenda population with regards to visiting the lab?
I can clearly say that the population of Bamenda rarely goes in for lab tests perhaps because they still think it’s a waste of time and money.
What is your advice to the population?
The first thing I will let people know is that the absence of a headache, fever or stomach ache does not necessarily mean you are completely healthy so it is necessary you get tested because there are infections that show little or no signs and symptoms unless you go through a proper laboratory test. I will equally say that if you are a sexually active person, then it is necessary to get tested for veneral infections as often as you can because most of these infections have dormant signs/symptoms. Finally never think a lab test is too expensive because by getting tested, you can get treated within the shortest time frame.