Source: Ghana News Agency
Statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), has shown that millions of patients globally, suffer injuries and death due to unsafe care they receive from healthcare facilities.
It said four out of 10 patients who visited healthcare facilities globally, were harmed while receiving care, and in lower-medium income countries, such poor care accounted for about 134 million disabilities, contributing to 2.6 million fatalities globally.
To avert these needless occurrences, the 72nd World Health Assembly in May 2019, adopted the resolution 72.6 which, was a Global Action on Patient Safety and endorsed the establishment of the World Patient Safety Day, to be marked annually on 17 September, to increase public awareness and engagement, enhance global understanding, and work towards global solidarity and action by Member States to promote patient safety.
Giving these statistics at the opening of a two-day national patient safety and healthcare quality conference in Accra on Thursday, to commemorate the Day in Ghana, Dr Neema Rusibamayila Kimambo, the acting WHO Country Representative, called for strengthened stakeholder collaboration, and the need for all to speak up for patient safety.
She said closer attention must be paid to the problem of patient safety, the establishment and strengthening of science-based systems necessary for improving the quality of health care, while giving the issue top priority in health sector policies and programmes, making it an essential component for strengthening health care systems to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The Conference, on the theme; “Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety,” endorsed the fact that patient safety was a critical element of, and the foundation for delivering quality health care, and brought together multiple stakeholders including healthcare professionals, to share knowledge and brainstorm on lessons leant from past events such as the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent future patient healthcare emergencies.
Dr Kimambo, however, noted that recognising patient safety could not be ensured without access to safe infrastructure, technologies and medical devices, and their safe use by patients who needed to be well informed, and a skilled and committed health workforce, in an enabling and safe environment.
She encouraged the need for acknowledging the hard work of healthcare workers and providing them with the needed support to ensure patient safety.
Dr Kimambo commended all healthcare professionals, especially frontliners, for their courage, commitment and sacrifices in facing the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to over 41,000 (about 3.8 per cent) of these workforce in the African Region alone, getting infected with the virus, with many more unaccounted for.
She said efforts towards achieving such objectives were often cost-effective and simple, citing the observance of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practices in healthcare facilities as effective ways of achieving infection prevention.
Dr Daniel Asare, the Former Chief Executive Officer of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, who chaired the conference said eliminating antimicrobial infections was becoming a huge challenge, posing a great financial burden on healthcare facilities.
He said although scientists were developing artificial intelligence and robotics for safe healthcare delivery including surgical sessions, quality leadership and a positive culture by institutions were vital for achieving patient safety and called for a unified force through a commitment to achieve quality healthcare delivery.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), admitted that in Ghana medical, surgical, and healthcare acquired infections often occurred through medication errors such as dispensing wrong medication and infusions, in surgeries, and insanitary environment among others.
However, the GHS, had over the years developed several safety and quality assurance documents, including the Community Score Cards, the Patient Charter, and the National Healthcare Quality Strategy, to guide practitioners and provide stakeholder education, he said.
He also paid tribute to all health workers and especially the gallant ones who fought boldly, but lost their lives to COVID-19 in course of their duties and urged participants at the conference to pay closer attention to the lessons that led to these tragedies to review them.
There were also remarks from Ms Anne-Claire Dufay, the UNICEF Country Representative, who also acknowledged the enthusiasm and commitment of health workers in the just ended nationwide Expanded Polio Immunisation exercise, and their strong quest to protect themselves against COVID-19 infections as they worked.
She pledged the continuous support of UNICEF towards the provision of WASH facilities in healthcare facilities and urged the government to further enhance investment in health worker safety to protect patients.
Ms Antoinette Shor-Anyawoe, the acting Country Director of WaterAid Ghana, stressed on adequate provision of WASH facilities to prevent compromises of patient dignity and healthcare safety, while Mrs Patience Cofie, the Country Director of PATH spoke about an intended chorine project to support disinfection processes in facilities.
The GHS also launched Guidelines for the Implementation of the National Healthcare Quality Strategy.