‘Complex and overwhelming:’ medicines and CALD backgrounds


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The safe use of medicines within multicultural communities is the main focus of Multicultural Health Week this year

The NSW Department of Health cited research that shows that people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds experience higher rates of adverse outcomes from poor medication management, including medication-related hospital admissions.

Consultations with key stakeholders identified that people from multicultural communities often find information related to their medicines complex and overwhelming, the Department said.

It also highlighted a lack of translated resources to help communities support the safe use of medicines. In some communities, there are also cultural practices around sharing medicines with others.

In her message at today’s online launch, Secretary for Health Elizabeth Koff stressed the relevance of the Multicultural Week 2020 theme ‘Health Literacy and Safe Use of Medicines’.

“This year has been a challenging one for all of us especially with the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“We all need to work together to ensure our families, friends and loved ones are all safe. The theme is particularly important during this time.

“The week highlights the safe use of medicines and also the role your pharmacist has in supporting your health and safe use of medicines,” Ms Koff said.

“This initiative showcases our work in delivering the initiatives highlighted in NSW Plan for Healthy Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities 2019-2023. The plan aims to ensure that people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities have equitable access to health care services that are culturally responsive, safe and high quality”.

The Week also informs multicultural communities on the important role their pharmacist has in supporting their health and the safe use of medicine Key messages emphasise the importance of knowing:

  • What your medicine is for
  • How to take your medicine safely
  • The active ingredient in your medicine
  • That the packaging of medicines that are the same may look different

It is also important for people to understand how to manage their medicines during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department said.

his year’s Multicultural Health Week runs from 7 to 11 September. Resources are available here.

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