470 Common Medicines
➤ See the chapters
called “Solving Health
Problems,” (page 19)
and “The Medical
System” (page 33)
for more information
to help you decide
if you need to take
Some people think that you always need medicine to get good
health care. But medicines can only treat health problems—not
solve the conditions that cause them. And not all health
problems are best treated with medicine. For some, drinking
lots of liquids and resting are most important. A medicine
should be used only if you know what the problem is and that
the medicine will work for that problem.
To decide whether or not you need a
medicine, think about these things:
• How serious is my illness?
• Can I get better without this medicine?
• Can I get better by changing my living or
• Is there a traditional remedy that works?
• Are the benefits of using this
medicine greater than the
risks and costs?
To the health worker:
When giving medicine, remember these guidelines:
1. Medicine is not a substitute for good health care. Good health care means
explaining why people have a health problem, what they can do to get better,
and how they can prevent that problem in the future.
2. Medicine is safe and helpful only if you give good instructions about how
to take it (see pages 474 to 476 in this chapter). Be sure the woman
understands your instructions.
3. Medicine will be used correctly only if you
understand a woman’s beliefs and fears.
If a person believes that taking more
medicine will make her heal faster, she
may take extra and harm herself. If she
is afraid that a medicine will harm her
body, she may not take it at all. But if
she understands how the medicine
works, she will be more eager to take
4. Help find the cheapest and best
treatment for the people you see.
Most people worry about the cost,
since buying a medicine can take all the
money a family has for a week or month.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012