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Commemorating World Patient Safety Day

ISLAMABAD: On World Patient Safety Day WHO maintains: “Every person around the world will, at some point in the life, take medications to prevent or treat illness. However, medications sometimes cause serious harm if incorrectly stored, prescribed, dispensed, administered or if monitored insufficiently.

Unsafe medication practices and medication errors are a leading cause of avoidable harm in health care across the world. Medication errors occur when weak medication systems and human factors such as fatigue, poor environmental conditions or staff shortages affect the safety of the medication use process.

This can result in severe patient harm, disability and even death. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has significantly exacerbated the risk of medication errors and associated medication-related harm. It is in this context that ‘Medication Safety’ has been selected as the theme for World Patient Safety Day 2022, with the slogan ‘Medication Without Harm’.

The global campaign reaffirms the objectives of the WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm launched by WHO in 2017.

The campaign calls on stakeholders to prioritize and take early action in key areas associated with significant patient harm due to unsafe medication practices.

These include high-risk situations, transitions of care, poly-pharmacy (concurrent use of multiple medications) and look-alike, sound-alike medications.

The campaign will provide a special focus on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for medication safety, considering the serious disruption in the provision of health services.

World Patient Safety Day is one of WHO’s global public health days.

It was established in 2019 by the Seventy-second World Health Assembly through the adoption of resolution WHA72.6 – “Global action on patient safety”.

Its objectives are to increase public awareness and engagement, enhance global understanding, and work towards global solidarity and action by Member States to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm.

Objectives of World Patient Safety Day 2022:

Raise global awareness of the high burden of medication-related harm due to medication errors and unsafe practices, and ADVOCATE urgent action to improve medication safety.

Engage key stakeholders and partners in the efforts to prevent medication errors and reduce medication-related harm.

Empower patients and families to be actively involved in the safe use of medication.

Scale up implementation of the WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm.

To observe the day, WHO is organizing a series of webinars on medication safety and is producing a number of medication safety solutions and technical products in 2022.

On and around 17 September 2022, WHO will organize a wide range of activities and host a global virtual event.

Celebrations will include lighting up of Geneva’s Jet d’Eau in orange colour.

Member States and partners are invited to participate in the global campaign by pledging to implement the WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm, organizing activities, holding events and lighting up iconic monuments in orange in support of medication safety.

In Islamabad: 

The World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with COMSTECH celebrated World Patient Safety Day under the slogan of “Medication without Harm” at COMSTECH on Friday.

World Patient Safety Day is marked annually on 17 September. It aims to raise awareness on how to prevent, reduce risks, errors, and harm that occur to patients during the provision of health care.

In keynote address, Dr. Palitha Mahipala, Head of Mission/WHO Representative to Pakistan said that WHO’s vision is to ensure that every patient receives safe and respectful care, every time, everywhere.

He said, around 134 million adverse events happen in hospitals due to unsafe healthcare practices. Out of which estimated 2.6 million patients die annually.

The social cost of patient harm is estimated to be US$ 1 – 2 trillion a year. He said that the theme of this year’s commemoration is “Medication Safety” which addresses a critical component of safety in health care.

Dr. Mahipala said that unsafe medication practices and errors are a leading cause of injury and avoidable harm in health care systems across the world.

He mentioned that globally the cost associated with medication errors has been estimated at $42 billion annually.

He informed that the most harm arises from systems failures in the way care is organized and coordinated, especially when multiple health providers are involved in a patient’s care.

Dr. Mahipala said, in Pakistan, a small research study on Patient Safety and adverse events conducted in 2021 in five hospitals throughout the country, which found that diagnostic errors comprise 40%, while surgical or procedure-related errors comprise 32% error, complications of childbirth-15%, adverse medication-related events 9%, and healthcare-associated infection or pneumonia 4% of all adverse effects.

He said that WHO has called 2020-2030 a decade of patient safety. He informed that WHO Pakistan in collaboration with the federal ministry of health and provincial departments of health is taking concrete steps to accelerate medication safety and improve the quality of care in Pakistan.

He reiterated that WHO Pakistan stands committed to support the Government of Pakistan to ensure safe healthcare practice at all levels.

Dr. Mahipala said that the humanitarian crisis caused by recent floods in Pakistan, we are extremely concerned that the health gains of the past few years are at increased risk of collapse.

“We’re working closely with the Government of Pakistan and the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination to mobilize resources to respond to this massive humanitarian crisis including providing urgent healthcare to the patients”, he said.

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary, Coordinator General, COMSTECH said that we are delighted to partner with the WHO not only for this event, but we plan to work together for the common mission of improved health.

He said that World Patient Safety Day calls for global solidarity and concerted action by all countries and international partners to improve patient safety.

Prof. Choudhary said that hardly anyone among you can claim that you have not experienced the bad effect of certain medications.

Some of these effects are due to the non-specificity of medication and often unavoidable, but a large majority of these harmful effects are due to improper prescription, drug-food interaction and certain non-compliance.

Prof. Choudhary said that multidrug resistance in pathogenic agents, cancer cells, etc. are largely associated with the improper use of antibiotics and antivirals.

He mentioned that many of us use medications for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, etc. In such cases, cumulative harmful effects of medication kill patients before the actual disease causes mortality.

Prof. Choudhary said in the OIC countries, population increase, lack of access to quality health care including pharmacy services, weak control on the sale of prescribed medicines, illiteracy, and poverty are major impediments in the safe use of medication as well causes of prevailing harmful effects.

Prof. Choudhary said that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest political block of countries after the UN.

OIC and UN enjoy very cordial and fruitful collaboration in the health care sector and we at OIC are especially pleased that our member states played a positive role in not only saving the WHO but also strengthening this important global institution at a critical time of need.

Director General Health, Dr. Shabana Saleem, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination said that the Director General of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, noted in a recent press conference that the 2022 world patient safety day is celebrated every year and is focused on medication without harm.

According to him medication errors account for half of all avoidable harm in medical care.

She said the major contributing factors to unsafe practices are weak medication systems and human factors, with many countries lacking the capacity to detect, evaluate and prevent medicine safety issues.

She said the aims to reduce severe avoidable medication related harm by 50% would be achieved through focused activities and interventions targeting three areas: patients and the public, health care professions, and medicine system and medication practices.

She mentioned that we are working with the provincial governments, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan to implement the WHO global patient safety action plan 2021-2030.

The national patient safety strategy and road map are currently being developed.

The Ambassadors of Lebanon, Afghanistan, Somalia, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Morocco, Sudan, participated in the celebration of World Patient Safety Day.

Key stakeholders:

Patients, including families, caregivers and communities. Reach out to vulnerable groups in elderly and children’s care homes.

Health workers who are working in clinical and non-clinical areas at all levels of health care.

Policy makers from ministries of health, finance, and education, as well as parliamentarians and political leaders.

Academics, including students and researchers at universities and professional and educational institutions.

Professionals associations and patient organizations.

Community leaders and activists, foundations, charitable sectors and international organizations.

Healthcare innovation industries, including IT, manufacturers of medical devices, software, hardware and apps, insurance companies, inventors and entrepreneurs. | YouTube Channel

Dr. Iffet Sultana

Prof. Dr. Iffet Sultana PhD (Education), IQRA University, M.Phil. (Environmental Education) IQRA University, Master’s in Educational Administration & Management (University of Karachi). Dr. Iffet Sultana has been associated with IQRA University as an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Management Sciences, Department of Business Administration since 2013. Her PhD Thesis is on “Girls’ Access & Equity in Primary Education in the Slum Areas of Karachi”. In the past, she has worked for the Ministry of Environment, Government of Pakistan. She has presented numerous research papers in National and International Conferences. Her areas of special interest are Girls’ Education, Inclusive Education, Environmental Education and Gender Studies. She has been actively teaching and stimulating student’s interest in Social Science and Developmental Sciences Subjects including Education, Sociology, Psychology & other Contemporary Subjects. Dr. Sultana is also associated with various NGOs in the capacity of Consultant. Writes for News as Contributing Editor (particularly focusing on the UN International Days.)