Patient Safety must be Prioritized- WHO

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By Chika Onyesi

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged governments of member countries and other stakeholders to prioritize and strengthen efforts for patient’s safety.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti made the call in a statement to mark the maiden edition of the World Patient Safety Day.

The World Patient Safety Day, an annual campaign and the first of its kind was established by the Seventy-second World Health Assembly resolution (WHA72.6) on Global Action on patient safety.

The campaign aims to bring all key stakeholders together and allow providers, seekers, and managers of health care services express solidarity and commitment to make health care safer.

Moeti who was represented by the WHO Officer in -Charge in Nigeria, Dr. Clement Peter, lamented that safety in health systems has become a major global concern following the increase in the number of people suffering avoidable harm while receiving healthcare.

She described patient safety as ‘‘the absence of preventable harm to a patient and reduction of risk of unnecessary harm associated with healthcare to an acceptable minimum’’.

According to Moeti, available evidence suggests that 134 million adverse events occur annually due to unsafe care in hospitals in low and middle-income countries in Africa.

Dr. Moeti explained that while half of the global disease burden from patients harm originates at primary and ambulatory care levels, 80 per cent of harm in these settings can be prevented through improved diagnosis.

“For example, improving diagnosis, prescription and the use of medicines, responsible for most detrimental errors, would significantly reduce the risk of harm’’

‘‘In low and middle-income countries, one out of every 10 patients in health facilities acquires health care associated infection’’.

She called on all stakeholders to make strong commitments, prioritize and take early action, and support the implementation of strategies for ensuring patient safety, managing risks and fostering supportive, learning cultures/

According to her, patient safety is an essential component of healthcare that should be given immediate attention, and maintained that there was an urgent need to raise awareness and understanding of patient safety.

‘‘Efforts to improve the health facility environment enhance practice of infection prevention and control, and adherence to standard operating procedures would go a long way in addressing this problem’’.

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