How does self-care fit into the healthcare framework?
Existing approaches, where citizens are passive recipients of healthcare, are no longer sustainable. Citizens must now play an active role in managing their own health, making daily choices on exercise, diet, and self-medication. This sits well with a growing trend for consumer empowerment, with increasing access to information on almost every aspect of health. In this scenario, self-care in general, and self-medication in particular, generate healthy perspectives for the individual and for the whole society. Today, it has already become a building block for patient-oriented, comprehensive, and financeable healthcare. Nevertheless, despite its undeniable social and economic benefits, coherent healthcare policy and regulation supporting self-care are still required.
What does the current pandemic mean to the self-care industry?
Consumer wise, the pandemic has led to widespread behavioral change – and one of the general trends is that we have all become more aware of the importance of maintaining good health and, at the same time, more open and willing to self-care. Furthermore, amidst the learnings of COVID-19 crisis, self-diagnosis, self-care measures and product availability are paramount to ensure reduction in affluence to health units, particularly during the time of confinement.
Legislation wise, the epidemiological situation generated by the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been this year’s main concern in terms of regulations at global level. I believe there is a dire need for coordinated action in this field, especially given the challenges which the industry might overcome in order to provide a truly competitive environment working in the best interests of the consumers and reflecting a transparent and predictable regulatory framework.
What is the role of health literacy in the self-care context?
Self-care entails a responsible self-assessment, self-treatment and self-monitoring, only possible by consumer and patient empowerment, increasing health literacy and professional guidance on healthy lifestyle choices. Therefore, there is a need to invest in healthcare professionals to have the right skills, knowledge and attitudes to practice patient-centered healthcare, providing an enabling context for patient empowerment. Self-care has the potential for citizens to take better care of their health needs and also to contribute to the sustainability of global healthcare systems, mostly by relieving pressure on primary and secondary healthcare units.
“I would like to tell consumers that they should inform themselves correctly, from valid and certified sources, stay safe and be responsible. This should be the foundation we all start rebuild our healthcare, wellness and wellbeing on.”