|Many organizations share the goals of improving healthcare around the world, and recognize the contribution and benefits of self-care and responsible self-medication. WSMI is pleased to collaborate with and support other organizations that share these goals.
At a country and regional level around the world, WSMI members work with the relevant authorities and organizations. At a global level, the WSMI office in Ferney-Voltaire near to Geneva leads on the interface with multilateral organizations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), and with the representative organisations of the medical professions such as the World Medical Association (WMA), the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and the International Council of Nurses (ICN).
WSMI is privileged to have been an NGO in official relations with the World Health Organisation since 1977, representing the self-medication constituency. In many statements and publications, WHO has made reference to the part played by self-medication in health. Self-medication, as part of self-care, is a significant contributor to primary healthcare and healthcare systems and is particularly important in home-based care and in resource-poor settings. Appropriate regulation of quality, safety and efficacy is an example of an area where there are shared objectives. See WHO's Guidelines for the Regulatory Assessment of Medicinal Products for Use in Self-Medication (WHO, 2000) which introduces the subject as follows:
"Self-care can be defined as the primary public health resource in the health care system. It consists of the health activities and health-related decision-making of individuals, families, friends, colleagues at work, and so on. It includes self-medication, non-drug self-treatment, social support in illness, and first aid in everyday life.
The reclassification of medicinal products from sale on prescription only to nonprescription (over-the-counter, or OTC) sale is of great current interest in many countries. Drug regulatory and health authorities have to consider the types of medicinal products for which reclassification is appropriate, safe and rational in the interest of public health.
It has become widely accepted that self-medication has an important place in the health care system. Recognition of the responsibility of individuals for their own health and awareness that professional care for minor ailments is often unnecessary have contributed to this view. Improvements in people's general knowledge, level of education and socioeconomic status in many countries form a reasonable basis for successful self-medication. New drugs with specific pharmacological action, such as histamine H2-receptor antagonists, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory compounds (NSAID) and nicotine preparations for cessation of smoking, have been successfully reclassified from prescription to nonprescription status in many countries."
The World Medical Association's policy statement on self-medication was developed in collaboration with WSMI and was adopted by the WMA General Assembly Meeting in Washington in 2002. For a pdf version click here.
A declaration entitled "Responsible self-medication" was adopted by the International Pharmaceutical Federation's Council at its meeting in the Hague in September 1998 and signed by FIP and WSMI in June 1999. This significant joint declaration provides guidance to pharmacists, patients and the industry regarding the safe and effective use of nonprescription medicines. For a pdf version click here.
A joint declaration between WSMI and the International Council of Nurses entitled 'Role of Nurses in Self-Medication' was agreed in February 2003. In the introduction it states:
"Self-medication is a key component of self-care that is particularly significant in an era of increasing chronic illness and well-informed health care consumers. Optimising responsible self-medication is an important and underused resource for health and provides an opportunity for collaboration and consultation among consumers, nurses, pharmacists and physicians."
For a pdf version of the whole statement click here.
In summary, WSMI is pleased to work with others, through such statements and through supporting individual projects and initiatives that develop the contribution of responsible self-medication to the lives of patients and consumers around the world.