The availability and accessibility of herbal remedies on the web have encouraged a new culture of healing, which is commonly call auto medication. This concept of auto cure was started in the USA where health system is not free and about 45 million of people are barred from basic healthcare. The poor economic structure and shortage of qualified health professional in any country favour such dangerous practice of self -healing. Mauritius is a small island where the health care delivery system caters for all irrespective of age, sex and creed, and paradoxically has a high percentage of auto cures.
The World Health Organisation [WHO] recently raised concerned on this issue. The survey carried out by WHO indicates that more than 90% of the pharmaceutical products available via the net are fake and more than 60% of the companies providing it are not genuine. As a physician I myself investigated on this issue, to know better who are those who prefer self -cure.
I was amazed to note that most of the so-called educated person, especially people having little knowledge of science tend to practice this form of treatment. One must be aware that healing is not an isolated process, it is a holistic one, which involves our physical body, sense organs, mental and spiritual frame altogether. What self medication does is only a symptomatic remedial solution. It gives the individual a quick and instant relief.
In Mauritius, the purchase of medication through the net is gaining momentum day by day. Let’s take the case of Ayurvedic remedies .Ayurvedic remedies cannot be taken by self. The simple reason is that this form of medical science is physician centred, which focus on an individualistic approach of the patient. It is the physician who determines the imbalance of the bio-energies in the body and analyses the mental, social, and spiritual affinities of the individual prior prescribing the appropriate dosage of pharmaceutical preparation. In addition to this, 99%of the treatment for any diseases through Ayurveda is accompanied by a supportive diet and mode of living.
There is a strong misconception that medicinal herbs are safe with no side effects. This thinking usually entails in an over usage of the medicinal herbs. Maharishi Charaka in his treaties of internal medicine beautifully puts it ‘the safest medicinal plant when taken through self medication may causes more harm than the most lethal poison’ .There is another saying which indicate  that auto medication  lead to non -compliance on prescribed drugs by physician. How we can bring a halt to such dangerous practice.
The most effective method will be to:
1] Educate the individual from early childhood about the importance of medication. The relevance of Adult supervision shall be emphasised.
2] The peer pressure about the goodness of any medication shall be shrugged without second thought.
3] The public at large shall be constantly informed about the dangers of auto medication, through the media, medical seminars and exhibition.
4] The pharmaceutical companies especially those in the  marketing of Ayurvedic and herbal remedies shall imperatively  put on each labelling  warning  signals  like, ‘auto medication is not advised’, or ‘to be sold under registered physician prescription only’.
5] The physician himself shall instruct and explain the drawbacks of self healing to each and every patient attending his surgery.
It is very sad to note that Mauritians do not realise that we are one of the rare countries in the world where the patient has an easy and rapid access with medical specialist for any diseases. It is an indirect humiliation towards these highly qualified and dedicated health professionals when one adopts the self medication way of healing.