Health experts warn of grave consequences, even death, from unprescribed treatment
At a time when no proven treatment for novel coronavirus Covid-19 has been found, numerous fake and unverified treatments are now being spread on social media, influencing people to take random medicines without consulting a licensed physician.
Health experts are deeply concerned over the impact of such "DIY" (Do it yourself) treatments that can have grave consequences, even leading to death.
People become more inclined to take a medicine when they learn on social media that the drug is “effective” against Covid-19 and available in the country, but doctors or hospitals refuse to prescribe it, the experts said.
Moreover, those who have recovered from the infection also suggest self-treatment among family members, relatives, friends, co-worker, and on social media.
These home remedies also include unorthodox methods related to diagnosis and disinfection, gargling and inhalation, temperature and radiation, religious and occult methods, recipes of herbs and spices, among others.
They also said that as some 80% to 85% of Covid-19 patients recover without taking any medical help, many now believe that these fake or unproven remedies work effectively against the virus.
The experts also pointed out that for any disease, a person must consult a licensed physician as the type of treatment and medication differ from person to person considering their health conditions and disease history, or the consequences may be fatal.
“As almost 85% of patients have recovered naturally, it cannot be confirmed which medications work and which don’t,” Sir Salimullah Medical College Mitford Hospital Director Brig Gen Kazi Md Rashid Un Nabi told Dhaka Tribune.
Although Ivermectin, Doxycycline, Hydroxychloroquine, or Remdesivir have cured some patients, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that these have not yet been proven to be a cure for the disease. Still, very little is known about the disease. It will take time to know the impact of the medicines now being provided at hospitals, he added.
“Some are taking Homeopathy or Ayurveda therapy as alternative medicine. But, do not take medicines such as antibiotics without consulting a registered doctor. If you have a fever, you can take medicine for fever and if you have a cough, then you can take medicine for it. But do not randomly take any medicine. If you need to take any other medicine, you must consult a doctor,” he warned.
Health experts also warned that fake or unproven medical products and methods on social media that claim to diagnose, prevent, or cure Covid-19, may contain other ingredients that might cause further harm to one’s health.
Regarding the issue, WHO has requested member countries to immediately alert them if any fake medicine or other falsified products are identified.
Dr Mujibur Rahman, head of the Department of Medicine at Dhaka Medical College, said: “Patients are being admitted to the hospital at the last moment after following the unproven treatment, which has had a bad effect.”
“At the same time, many of them follow social media and do not go for the Covid-19 test. Later, they go to the doctor or hospital after their conditions worsens,” he added.
“If someone is feeling sick, that person should maintain self-isolation and call a doctor or the national helpline instead of looking for remedies from others or social media,” Dr Mujibur advised.
However, there is no specific data available on the number of people who have fallen ill after taking medicines without doctor's consultation during the pandemic.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Dr ABM Abdullah, former dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) said: “There is no proven treatment or drug yet for Covid-19, but people are taking unverified medicines after taking suggestions from social media or other such media tools. People run after rumours and unscientific methods more.”
“The key factor is maintaining social distancing, following health guidelines and using personal safety products to avoid a Covid-19 infection,” Dr Abdullah, who is also the personal physician of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Similarly, Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) Director Dr Mahmood-uz-Jahan said: “Which drugs work against Covid-19 is yet to be confirmed. But many people are risking it all by taking drugs because these are widely available in our country. But in foreign nations, you cannot buy drugs without a doctor's prescription.”
“All these treatments were proved wrong. Therefore, the misuse of these drugs must be stopped, said BMRC director.