Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro delivered a key note address on the Zoom platform yesterday as the country joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Patient Safety Day which runs under the theme ‘Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety’ with the slogan ‘Safe health workers, Safe Patients’ and calling for action to ‘Speak up for health worker safety’
“It is my absolute pleasure to officiate on this momentous day to commemorate patient Safety day. This year it comes at a time when health is on everyone’s mind as we fight this invisible enemy the coronavirus causing COVID-19,” said Dr Mangwiro.
The Deputy Minister of Health explained the day was set aside by the World Health Assembly in May 2019 with a view to promote patient safety.
“World Patient Safety Day is now an annual event celebrated on 17th of September, established by the 72nd World Health Assembly, in May 2019, with the adoption of resolution WHA72.6 on ‘Global action on patient safety’.
“The resolution recognizes patient safety as a global health priority whose origin is firmly grounded in the fundamental principle of medicine of: – First, do no harm. Setting the tone that no one should be harmed in the process of delivering care,” said the Deputy Minister of Health.
“This year’ theme, Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety, recognises a very important prerequisite to patient safety that is a safe and healthy health worker. My Ministry and indeed the Government of Zimbabwe places the health care worker at the centre of the health delivery system of our nation. The welfare of health care workers takes priority if we are to see our health delivery system getting to the levels we desire,” said Dr Mangwiro.
Dr Mangwiro pointed out that past practices were skewed towards patients and neglecting the health workers and stated that the new thrust was aimed striking a balance between the two by further engaging patients.
“Traditionally, systems, policies and practices in health care have been focusing on the patient and not on the healthcare workers to the detriment of the very goal of looking after the patients. It is our time to “Care of the Carer”.
“Patient Safety Day commemorations today assists us in advancing and shaping the patient safety agenda by focusing and driving improvements in some key strategic areas through engaging patients and families for safer health care monitoring improvements in patient safety,” said Dr Mangwiro.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Air Commodore Dr Jasper Chimedza weighed in and noted that some deaths occur due to errors which results in long term impact on the patient.
“Some studies suggest that Zimbabwe record as many as 1 000 deaths annually as a result of errors or preventable harm. Not every case of harm results in death, yet they can cause long term impact on the patient’s physical health, emotional heath, financial well-being, or family relationships,” said the Health Secretary.
Dr Chimedza spelt out Ministry of Health’s commitment to address health workers’ safety which translates into patient safety.
“At MoHCC (Ministry of Health), we believe patient safety has to be addressed and must start with addressing health workers’ safety. A safe worker is a pre-requisite for a sustained safe working environment and ultimately the safety of the client who in most cases is the patient,” said Dr Chimedza.
“On 17 September, we celebrate World Patient Safety Day because we realise quality health care, the first step is to do no harm, yet in hospitals in low- and middle- income countries globally, every year, there are 134 million adverse events due to unsafe care, contributing to 2.6 million lives lost,” said World Health Organisation Representative, Dr Midzi who delivered a key message of the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
Dr Midzi stated that health workers were also at risk of being infected whilst discharging their duties with figures standing at 41 000 during this COVID-19 era.
“Frontline health workers are at greater risk of infection because of the care they provide to patients.
“In WHO Africa Region, more than 41 000 health workers have been infected with COVID-19, accounting for 3.8% of all reported cases,” said Dr Midzi.
The celebrations were coordinated by Ministry of Health and Child Care Director for Quality Assurance and Improvement, Musiwarwo Chirume.