Ethiopia Commemorates 1st World Patient Safety Day

Ethiopia marks the first Annual World Patient Safety Day by adding its voice to the international call, "Patient Safety: a global health priority!" H.E Dr. Lia Tadesse, State Minister of Health, Dr. Yakob Seman, Medical Services Director General of the Ministry of Health (MOH), Dr. Paul Mainuka, Health Systems Strengthening Team Leader of WHO Ethiopia Country Office, and about 90 attendees representing the MOH and its various agencies; professional, patient and student associations; hospitals; academic and research institutions; local and international development partners; and the media took part in the event which was conducted on 17 September 2019 in Addis Ababa.

The event was aimed at raising national awareness about patient safety. Considering openness and a 'blame-free' environment as minimum conditions to bring about a safety culture, the World Patient Safety Day 2019 was celebrated with the slogan "Speak up for patient safety!"

Apart from press briefing, presentations and panel discussions held at the Ethiopian Public Health Institute focusing on patient safety, medication safety in health care, safe surgery practice, antimicrobial resistance and patient safety culture; a ttuaf lighting ceremony took place at the Saint Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College. The ttuaf lightening ceremony was to symbolize the color orange, which was chosen by the WHO for this International Day.

During the event, State Minister of Health, Dr. Lia Tadesse said, "The issue of patient safety deserves due attention because it is among the foremost challenges of the health sector especially in developing countries." She added, "The best way to address this challenge is open discussion and learning from errors."

Dr. Yakob Seman, Medical Services Director General of the MOH on his part indicated that it has been a while since the Government of Ethiopia has started to give due attention to improve patient safety at health institutions and a lot of efforts are underway in this regard. To this line, he reiterated all development partners, academic and research institutions to be part of this national movement intended to ensure every patient's safety and help minimize death and injury in the country. He also called upon the media to advocate for safer health care and set agenda for discussion on the importance of open discussion between patients and physicians on all issues with the potential to compromise patients' safety.

In his key note address, Dr. Paul Mainuka, the Health Systems Strengthening Team Leader of WHO Ethiopia Country Office, emphasized the importance of the event by saying that it entails everyone to understand what patient safety means and what measures to advocate ensuring patient safety. He further emphasized, "It is essential to have strategies and organizational structure and experts who provide guidance on patient safety to ensure that the care received by patients is effective and of high quality, as well as safe." Dr. Paul concluded by reaffirming WHO's commitment to work with and contribute to measures that will help to improve patient safety.

One of the presenters and panelists in the event, Dr. Fahmi Mohammed, from WHO capitalized, "Treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from health care-related avoidable harm should be a national and international priority, calling for concerted international efforts."

The event was facilitated by a National Patient Safety Technical Working Group, which comprised of academicians, local and international, governmental and non-governmental development partners.

According to WHO, patient safety is defined as freedom from unnecessary harm or potential harm associated with health care. The 72nd World Health Assembly decided to mark September 17 as an Annual World Patient day to create awareness of patient safety and urge the public for their commitment to making healthcare safer.

Researches confirmed that one in every 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care, of which at least 50 percent is preventable harm. It is also estimated that more than 1 million patients die annually across the globe from unsafe surgery.

Major medical practices and risks associated with patient safety are medication errors, health care-associated infections, unsafe surgical care procedures, unsafe injections practices, diagnostic errors, sepsis, unsafe transfusion practices, radiation errors, venous thromboembolism and unsafe care in mental health.

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