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Self Care Regimen Cuts Treatment Costs by 20%
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Self Care Regimen Cuts Treatment Costs by 20%

Self care schemes can help reduce the cost of medical treatment by 20%, said Abdorrahman Rostamian, deputy chairman of the Majlis Hygiene and Treatment Commission, on the occasion of the 4th National Conference on Self Care and Patient Education.
“Each dollar invested in a patient’s self care education will see a saving of $5,” he said at a media briefing.
The conference along with the 1st Patient Education Festival is slated to be held at Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran January 20-22.
Educating patients will help them change their lifestyle according to their illness and delay illnesses. This will also help prevent or cure severe symptoms of sickness, he said, IRNA reported.
Kheirollah Gholami, professor at Tehran University of Medical Sciences and conference chairman, said 40% of patients do not follow their treatment prescriptions. “This is because they are not taught about the importance of self care.”
Most deaths in the world are caused by non-infectious chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular ailments and asthma while they can be controlled to a great extent by self care strategies.
Today’s complex healthcare systems rely heavily on sophisticated self care regimens in the developed countries. To navigate the system and follow self care protocols, patients must be able to understand and efficiently use health information, which requires health literacy.

 Health Literacy Lacking
However, many patients lack the necessary health literacy skills to adequately care for themselves. Understanding how to effectively care for one’s self is thought to improve symptoms and outcomes even in patients with heart failure.
“Patients do not have enough information on how to take care of themselves and therefore the symptoms of their illness manifest frequently and drive them to doctors who only treat the symptoms rather than the disease,” said Rostamian.
“Self care is one of the international indicators of the national health system and some countries mandate patients to take part in training, but there are no such programs in our country.”
Since there are no official sources of knowledge for patients with chronic diseases, they often seek information from unprofessional people which can even lead to deterioration in their condition. “Self care literacy must be provided to everyone and be included in the school curricula.”  
Self care means looking after yourself in a healthy way, whether it’s brushing your teeth, taking medicine when you have a cold, or doing some exercise.
If you have a long-term condition, there are extra things you may need to consider, such as making changes to your diet and different types of exercise or different types of medication you may need to take.
Self care also means staying active by doing things that are important to you, such as gardening, seeing friends and family, going on holiday, or continuing to work, if possible. It involves looking at what you can do and want to do, rather than what you can’t do.

 Far From Standard
There have been few and far between efforts to devise a comprehensive public self care education system in Iran since 2005 when the issue was first raised but none appear to have borne fruit.
Rostamian criticized the health system for its “lackluster patient education plans” which have not been implemented properly and “will take a long time to reach the standard level.”
But in government policies, prevention does have priority over treatment, as it is seen to be effective. “We will try to allocate 30% of the government’s budget to prevention through self care.”
Gholami said patient education can be offered by the medical staff, including doctors, pharmacists and nurses.  
Nearly 67% of the articles submitted for the upcoming conference are from nurses who seem to be the most active group in educating patients.
“This could be due to patient education programs in their syllabus, so I suggest that it be included in other medical majors as well,” he said.    
Rostamian however pointed to the lack of nursing staff as another challenge for patient education and added that the ratio is three to five nurses for each doctor.
He called for a swift move to increase nursing recruitment capacities but speculated that the process will probably take around seven years before the number of staff reaches the acceptable standards.

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