DHA stickers may prevent workers overdosing

Authority to start trial designed to prevent overdosing on medicines among blue-collar workers

Dubai: A picture is worth more than a thousand words, according to the Dubai Health Authority.

In a new trial programme, the authority is going to use stick-on pictures on medicine bottles to save lives of blue-collar workers in Dubai who have little to no literacy skills needed to understand medicine-taking instructions.

Set for imminent roll-out, the latest DHA effort will counter illiteracy and language barriers that can lead to blue-collar workers not taking the medicines in correct dosage and risk overdosing.

The DHA will work with drug companies and government hospitals in the first phase to overcome this problem before expanding it across the country.

There are currently 75,000 blue-collar workers employed in Dubai with a vast majority of these coming from rural areas from around the region and also from the Asian subcontinent covering India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

While all workers are provided with health care benefits in Dubai, there is no prescription system developed for those who have trouble reading or understanding a different language.

One solution may be a simple pictorial prescription sticker which pharmacies and government hospitals are encouraged to place on their medication packaging.

Called ‘RX Prescription Stickers’, they clearly indicate through very clear images all the key instructions including the frequency and time of consumption as well as the duration of the course, said the DHA in a statement on Thursday.

Common and basic symbols will be used to ensure foolproof comprehension by the patient.

Several key pharmacies frequented by blue-collar workers will be part of the pilot project and their feedback, response and effectiveness will be monitored over a two-month period.

Dr Ali Al Syed, director of the Pharmaceutical Services Department at the DHA, said: “The risk of overdose among people who can’t read or understand an alien language has been high, so we are delighted to be introducing this solution, which is very simple but highly effective. We believe that it will be a success because the sticker system is quick and easy to use, so pharmacies and dispensing hospital departments are expected to welcome this new system.”

Patients can now be reassured that they are taking the right dosage, at the right time and for the correct period. he added.

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