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International Self-Care Day takes place annually on the 24th of July and is an initiative that is strongly supported by SMASA. The campaign encourages people to take charge of their health, with the aim of improving their overall health and wellbeing. With lifestyle or noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases on the rise, there’s never been a better time to do so.

Responsible self-care starts with the basic steps we take each day to stay healthy and take care of minor or long-term conditions, based on our own knowledge, available information and professional advice. Making healthy lifestyle choices, using medicines responsibly and knowing when you need to see a doctor or pharmacist are all part of maintaining good self-care. Non-prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are tools to support self-care. They can be bought without a prescription written up by a doctor, and are safe and effective to use as directed on the label.

The benefits of practising responsible self-care are empowered individuals who have a higher self-esteem, improved wellness, longer life expectancy and cost saving (both for public and private) that results from reduced use of healthcare services.

Responsible self-care advice:

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) linked to poor lifestyle habits including lack of physical activity, an unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol and smoking, can be prevented by up to a massive 80%.
How? By taking charge of your health immediately, and equipping yourself with the right knowledge, you can actively contribute towards improving your health by practicing self-care and responsible and appropriate self-medication.

1. Assess your current health status.
2. Make sure you’re getting the correct treatment for any chronic health problems.
3. Focus on key factors such as getting active, examining your diet, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and keeping your mind active.
4. Be proactive about your self-care – in combination with a healthy lifestyle, it goes a long way towards combating minor illness and long-term health issues.
5. If you are a smoker, quit.

Responsible self-medication advice

- Storing medicines at home
- Always keep medication out of reach and sight of children.
- Choose a cool, dry storage environment – heat and moisture are your medicine cabinet’s worst enemies as they affect the potency of medicine by accelerating the speed at which it breaks down. To prevent this from happening, avoid storing your medicine in the bathroom if you are able and if you can’t, make sure you store it in an airtight container. Hint: If you opt to store your medicine in the kitchen, stash it well away from your stove, the sink and appliances like your kettle and toaster, which generate heat.
- Don’t remove medicines from their original packaging – it’s vital that you avoid confusing medications and it’s important to keep the product leaflet for future reference and to keep tabs on the expiry date.
- Always check the expiry date on the box before taking medication and NEVER use medicine that has expired.
- The same goes for medicine that may still be within its expiry date, but has changed its appearance in any way or smells different. And if any of your pills have stuck together or are broken, even slightly, dispose of them.

Disposing of old and/or unused medicines:

- Don’t dispose of medicines down the sink or toilet.They can contaminate the water supply.
- Instead, return all unused and expired medicine to your pharmacist who will ensure that they are disposed of safely and legally.