Empower yourself, talk to your pharmacist

Get to know the questions that matter this Pharmacy Month

Tuesday, September 5 2023

Pharmacy professionals are essential to healthcare. To get the most out of your prescribed treatment, speak to your pharmacist for the important information you need to be aware of when taking medicine.

“It is so important to be informed about the medication you are taking and its dosage. Be sure to discuss your medicine with your Netcare pharmacist to understand why you are taking it and exactly how it must be taken, for instance, how many tablets, how many times a day, should it be taken with meals or on an empty stomach,” says Vishala Gokool-Sewram, Netcare’s general manager of pharmacy.

Pharmacy teams are integral in delivering health services and making their communities aware of important aspects regarding medication safety. Pharmacy’s role in healthcare includes education, counselling and information sharing on the preventative power of immunisation and recognising adverse medicine reactions, among many other aspects of health.

“This is reflected in this year’s theme for Pharmacy Month, as set by the Department of Health,  ‘Pharmacy united in promoting healthcare for patients’, which acknowledges the role of pharmacists and pharmacy support teams and their value in the provision of quality healthcare.”

Side-effects: when to worry
“Talk to your pharmacist about the possible side effects that may be expected with your medicine, which are outlined on the medicine package insert. Most side effects are mild and are tolerable when the person recognises them, and the course of treatment continues because stopping the medication can be much more harmful. The pharmacist may recommend adding another medication, if needed, to help manage the side effects.

“Sometimes, side effects can be more serious. Awareness of how these may present empowers you to know when to seek medical assistance. Serious side effects or reactions should always be reported to a healthcare facility, which alerts the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority [SAHPRA] to identify any potential safety issues to protect others. Members of the public can also report adverse reactions at

Protecting the power of antibiotics
“Another crucial responsibility of the pharmacy profession is empowering the public regarding antimicrobial stewardship [AMS] and the urgent need to protect the efficacy of antibiotics. If people take antibiotics when they don’t need to or do not finish the course as prescribed, the bacteria can become immune, and the antibiotics become less effective for treating illnesses,” Gokool-Sewram explains.

Do your part:

  • Talk to the pharmacist about all your medications
  • Finish all your antibiotics, even if you feel better
  • Never share your antibiotics with someone else
  • Take antibiotics exactly as directed
  • Prevent illness with hand hygiene

“As pharmacists, part of our advocacy for AMS includes infection prevention and control. Our friendly and professional hospital pharmacists can advise you on your personal requirements and the importance of always washing your hands thoroughly before and after handling medication, especially injecting medicines such as insulin, and dressing any wounds,” she says.

“This pharmacy month, Netcare pharmacies are specially equipped to provide safer pharmacy care with the use of our electronic medical records and e-scripting platforms. Netcare’s digitally enabled platform allows us to extend a higher level of care to all our patients than ever before.
“Netcare acknowledges, applauds and celebrates all pharmacists and pharmacy teams serving South Africa in diverse streams in the private and public sector, including academic, legislative, medical scheme and pharmaceutical industries, and the valued colleagues within our ranks. As a profession, we are united in collaborating, supporting and strengthening each other in delivering safe care to our patients,” Gokool-Sewram concludes.


Looking for a medical appointment? Netcare appointmed™ will make appointments for YOU with specialists practising at Netcare hospitals, GPs, and dentists at Netcare Medicross medical and dental centres, and specialists at Netcare Akeso mental health facilities. Simply request an appointment online at or phone Netcare appointmed™  on 0860 555 565, Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 17:00.

To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the Group’s facilities, please visit or contact the Netcare customer service centre either by email at [email protected] or phone 0860 NETCARE (0860 638 2273). Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.

For Netcare media enquiries, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.

Issued by:     MNA on behalf of Netcare
For media enquiries contact: Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster, or Clementine Forsthofer
Telephone:   011) 469 3016
Email:   [email protected][email protected][email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]