In line with its strategic goal to reduce preventable deaths arising from unsafe medication practices in the country, the Federal Government has announced measures put in place to reduce severe preventable medication-related harm by 50%, in the next 5 years.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire disclosed this on Monday, September 19, 2022, at a Press Briefing in Abuja to commemorate this year’s World Patient Safety Day.
The Minister who was represented by the Director of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi,
stated that the theme of the 2022 World Patient Safety Day was, ‘Medication Safety’ and the slogan was: ‘Medication without Harm’.
Ehanire explained that the day was marked annually on 17th September and commemorated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), International partners and all countries with the aim of increasing public awareness, stakeholder engagement, and advocacy for adoption of best practices at the point of care to promote patient safety.
The Health Czar stated that, “the goal of Medication Safety is to reduce severe and preventable medication related harm by 50% in the next 5 years specifically by addressing harm resulting from errors or unsafe practices in the health system”.
He however, said that this could be achieved by making improvements at each stage of the medication process, including prescribing, dispensing, administering, monitoring and use.
According to him, “this year’s activities present the opportunity to advocate for safer medication practices as well as a call for action for Government and relevant Stakeholders to work together to achieve the goal of ‘Medication without harm'”.
He futher said, “medications can sometimes cause serious harm if not used correctly either as a result of miscommunication between the patient and healthcare giver, error in prescriptions, poor monitoring of patient on medication, misuse of antibiotics which can result in antimicrobial resistance, confusion in dispensing look alike and sound alike drugs”.
He also noted that most patients especially those on long term medications for chronic illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, etc. were not aware of medications prescribed for them, adding that some patients abuse medications such as antibiotics that could create problems of antimicrobial resistance.
Highlighting other errors affecting patient safety in Nigeria, the Health Boss said, “we have seen quite a number of surgical errors which include but are not limited to operations on the wrong side, ligation of Ureters during hysterectomy, including stories of how surgical instruments, sponges and needles were left inside a patient.
“We have seen cases where the wrong patient was wheeled into the operating room because they were bearing similar names etc. Errors are not limited to medical or surgical services alone, some errors have also been recorded in our laboratories.
“Nigeria is already working to develop its National Policy and Strategy on Patient Safety and Quality of care. We are hoping it will be completed and launched this year so that it can be deployed for use in all our health facilities at all levels of care.
“The policy focuses on improving medication safety, surgical safety, safety of all medical procedures etc. Sensitization and capacity are ongoing in our Federal Tertiary Health Institutions in the form of training on medication safety, infection prevention control, and other aspects of patient safety”, the Health Boss disclosed.
To this end, Ehanire stated that, everyone had a role in promoting Medication without Harm. “Patients should be empowered to ask questions about the medications prescribed, know their names, and learn about the side effects of drugs being taken”, he said.
He therefore, enjoined all State Ministries of Health, NAFDAC, heads of health care facilities, Educational and research institutions Regulatory and professional bodies, Health care professional societies Patient advocacy groups, Donors and sundry stakeholders including development partners, Pharmaceutical industries and the Media to join hands with the Federal Ministry of Health to reduce medication errors and ensure safer medication practices to enthrone patient safety in the country.
On his part, World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Alex Chimbaru said. US$ 42 billion of total health expenditure worldwide could be averted if medication errors were addressed.
He also disclosed that WHO was working with Member States to implement the WHO Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021–2030 and that a regional patient safety strategy and road map were currently being developed to guide its implementation.