Updated: May 7, 2020
“Drug Usage Information Day 2019 – Learn More, Breathe Better”
Campaign by HKUMed Pharmacy Students and Pharmacists Connect Campaign by HKUMed Pharmacy Students and Pharmacists Connect
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is one of the top ten global causes of death. The World Health Organization estimates that COPD will become the third leading cause of death by 2030. Unfortunately, according to a study by The Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation in 2018, most Hong Kong citizens could not recognize COPD as being on the top ten killing list. Meanwhile, the prevalence of COPD is higher in the age group of 65 or above, as declared by the Centre for Health Protection in the same year. Therefore, the prevention and treatment of COPD are particularly significant issues for the elderly population in Hong Kong.
Medications only serve to control the symptoms of COPD while this disease cannot be completely cured. Thus, medications play a very important role in preventing exacerbations. There are multiple drug classes used for treating COPD and various types of inhaler require different techniques. Improper techniques of using inhalers may lead to underdose, causing an ineffective control of symptoms, as well as some serious potential adverse drug reactions. In order to raise public understanding on COPD, a group of Pharmacy students from the LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong (HKUMed), in collaboration with Pharmacists Connect, organised a campaign entitled “Drug Usage Information Day – Learn More, Breathe Better” at Sha Kok Square, Sha Kok Estate, Sha Tin Wai on 15 Sep 2019.
During the event, HKUMed Pharmacy students explained the symptoms, ways to prevent exacerbations and medications of COPD, and provided health tips using exhibition boards. Information booklets were distributed to provide additional information on COPD medications and other health topics. Simple health checks including blood pressure and blood glucose measurements were provided, followed by a health counselling session, in which the participants were advised of the results of their health checks and were offered some health suggestions from some senior students. There were also game booths for citizens of different age groups to learn more about correct drug usage.
“Registered Pharmacists’ Counselling Station” was another highlight of the event. Registered pharmacists provided counselling service for the participants. Many people brought along their medications to the station and received professional advice from the pharmacists. Ms Phoebe Chan, the Assistant Chief Executive of the Drug Resources Education Centre, The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong, also delivered a talk on the proper use of medications in COPD management and healthy living, which was warmly received.
“Although there is a low percentage of smokers in Hong Kong in recent years, second-hand smoke and serious air pollution have led to the increasing prevalence of COPD in this ageing community, making COPD a noteworthy issue in terms of public health. Currently, general citizens are not sufficiently aware of the disease. Since some of the symptoms of COPD overlap with that of common cold and flu, patients may not realise that they are experiencing a COPD exacerbation as they simply treat the symptoms as a cold, hence missing the best timing for treatment and leading to further worsening of the disease. Therefore, we would like to increase the public awareness of COPD and show proper inhaler techniques of all kinds of inhalers to patients in need. Pieces of advice are also given on some drugs to prevent their corresponding side effects. Furthermore, by promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging COPD patients to get pneumonia vaccinations for preventing exacerbations, we would like to deepen public knowledge about the roles of pharmacists in ensuring safe and proper drug use,” explained Gary Tam, a third-year Pharmacy student and a member of the organising committee.
The “Drug Usage Information Day” is a biannual event targeting the general public. This is already the 12th one organised by the committee since 2014. The event will continue to be held in other housing estates and community centres in the coming future, with the aim to promote the role and work of pharmacists through offering advice on medications and health for citizens.
For more event information, please visit: www.facebook.com/HKUPharm.