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Journal of Social and Administrali•e Pharmacy Vol. 7, No. 4, 1990
SJAA.K VAN DER GEEST*, Ph.o
ANITA HARDON, Ph.o
Department of Cultural Anthropology,
NL-1012 OK Amsterdam. The Netherlands
This paper sketches the self-medication situation in the developing countries. From a biomedical view-point the risks that are involved in developing countries are reportedly higher
than in industrialized countries. This can be related to the fact that in many developing countries prescription drugs are freely available over the counter. Drug regulations are limited
or not implemented and health care is malfunctioning. The economic-infrastructural and cultural-cognitive contexts that determine differences in self-medication practices are reviewed. Key words: Developing countries; Review; Selfmedication.
Paper presented at the Symposium on Self-Medication Consumer Aspects, Stockholm, Sweden. April 2-1. 1990
We have come to realize that self-medication
using pharmaceutical products is the "rule"
rather than the exception in medical care in the
industrialized countries of Europe, North
America and the Pacific. This is certainly true if
we include "non-compliance" with prescriptions in the definition of self-medication. Depending on how the concept is defined and the methodology used to measure it, it is estimated
that self-medication constitutes 50-90% of all
For some observers the high prevalence of
self-medication is a reason for optimism. It
demonstrates the continuous growth of consumers' self-awareness and self-reliance and their escape from the dependency and aliention brought about by medicalization. It reflects, as Bezold remarks, "a new attitude toward health, including increased self-responsibility for health" . Others cu:e less pleased. Some are worried
about the biomedical effects of "irrational"