Launch of Self Care: Taking charge of your health

New research shows consumers increasingly willing to take charge of their health, leading to a more effective and efficient healthcare system

Meeting hears about unique Swedish IT-based self-care initiative, which builds a ‘flu’ map and encourages patients to visit pharmacies for prevention and treatment

  • 92% of people like to be involved in decisions about their own health and medication.
  • Expanding the range of medicines available to patients and a greater role for pharmacists key to driving a self-care strategy.
  • Swedish initiative reaches 70% of the population

25 January 2018: Promoting increased levels of self care in Ireland would lead to a far more efficient and effective system of healthcare, according to a new report published today by the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) and the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA). Officially launched today, Self Care – taking charge of your health sets out a range of proposals for a more focused approach to self care which could lead to better patient outcomes and considerable savings for the State.

Self care is a healthcare philosophy which emphasises the role of ordinary people in taking responsibility for their health and wellbeing. There is a focus on empowering people to take a more active involvement in looking after themselves through greater health literacy and greater access to information. As demonstrated by today’s publication, which is based on research from Behaviour & Attitudes, there is a clear desire from the majority of people (92%) to be involved in their own self care.

Key findings of Self Care – taking charge of your health include:

  • 92% of people like to be involved in decisions about their own health and medication;
  • 94% reported that they have a mature and responsible attitude to maintaining their own health;
  • Nine out of 10 pharmacy customers indicate that the quality of medical advice they get at their regular pharmacy is either very good  or good; and
  • 80% view the pharmacist as a key partner in maintaining their health.

The role of community pharmacists is pivotal to the successful development of self care and its more widespread adoption. A number of recommendations are made within Self Care – taking charge of your health to help achieve this. Among the main recommendations are:

  • Expand the role of the pharmacist including the free treatment of common illnesses to medical card patients through the establishment of a pharmacy-based Minor Ailment Scheme.
  • The range of medicines made available to patients should be expanded through switching.
  • The concept of self care should be actively promoted among healthcare professionals.
  • Patients should have access to good-quality, trustworthy information so that they can seek care at the appropriate level and, thus, enhance their independence within the healthcare system.
  • Patients should know that self care means access to high-quality, safe and effective products.

Daragh Connolly, President of the Irish Pharmacy Union, said, “Embracing a philosophy of self care can lead to real, measurable savings in healthcare expenses and better outcomes for patients. Pharmacists can play a critical, expanded role in this area, utilising our accessibility and professional capabilities to benefit patients in partnership with our healthcare colleagues and the pharmaceutical industry.”

Dave Barrett, Chairman of IPHA Consumer Healthcare Division, said, “As well as the obvious benefits for individuals in taking a greater role in maintaining healthy lives, adoption of self-care principles could also help the State manage the financial challenges of an ageing population and strained healthcare budgets. The Government is clearly committed to encouraging people to take more control of their own health, as set out in the Healthy Ireland strategy. Our industry is committed to working with healthcare professionals, especially pharmacists who are often the first port of call for health information and advice, to support consumers to identify the most appropriate channel within the healthcare system.”

Swedish ‘Flu’ Map

The meeting also heard from Jonas Vikman of LIF, the Swedish pharmaceutical trade association, on a unique predictive health campaign they ran with the retail pharmacy association in Sweden. Treat yourself with advice from your pharmacist analysed real-time data to track where people were accessing online information on colds and flu. From this, they built a ‘flu’ map of Sweden, which was constantly updated and was used to target online advertising on the benefits of visiting a pharmacy. It is estimated that the campaign reached 70% of the Swedish population. It also promoted a valuable public health issue by conveying the message that antibiotics were ineffective in tacking colds and flu.

Jonas Vikman of LiF said,Healthcare in Europe is challenged by an ageing population and increasing chronic diseases. To re-define and develop self care contributes to tomorrow´s healthcare. As people take care of their own health and self-treatable conditions, more healthcare resources can be used for patients with severe and chronic diseases.”


Editor’s Note:  A full copy of Self Care – taking charge of your health can be downloaded from www.ipu.ie and www.ipha.ie.

For further information contact:

Jim Curran, Director of Communications & Strategy, IPU, on 01 493 6401/086 264 0469


Philip Hannon, Communications & Public Affairs Manager, IPHA, on 01 663 0933/087 287 0891