A National Policy and Implementation Strategy on Patient Safety and Care Quality has been developed by the Nigerian government for prevention of errors and minimization of harm to patients amidst provision of health care services. This was disclosed by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Kachollom Daju, during a press briefing for the celebration of the 2023 World Patient Safety Day (WPSD) in the country’s capital, Abuja, under the theme, “Engaging Patients for Patient Safety”.
“Elevate the Voice of Patients” was the slogan for this year’s commemoration. The celebration of WPSD emphasizes the significance of patient safety in the healthcare system of Nigeria. The policy, according to the Permanent Secretary, has its focus on the improvement of patient and family engagement in health care, surgical, safety of all medical procedures, medication, and infection prevention and control (IPC). He said this is in alignment with Resolution 18 of the 55th World Health Assembly, (WHA 55.18).
Patients should become essential members of their healthcare teams.
The Resolution urged Member States to acknowledge the burden of patient safety and to enact policies for their management. The fundamental characteristics of the safety of patients is to prevent errors and reduce harm to them while providing health care services. The errors could emerge from surgical mishaps, diagnostic inaccuracies, or medication errors. Regardless of these errors, protection of patients is of more significance. The theme for this year’s WPSD stresses the significant roles of individuals.
Families, patients and their caregivers have important roles to play to ensure the safety of healthcare delivery. It is necessary to empower patients to become essential members of their health care teams to enhance significant improvement of the safety of their care and the healthcare system itself. They would also be able to provide useful contributions through active participation in their healthcare decisions. The World Health Organization (WHO) also encouraged stakeholders through the slogan, “Elevate the voice of patients”.
They should be made partners in their own care & policy formulation.
Stakeholders are expected to take required steps to make sure that patients are active participants of health care rather than passive recipients. Achieving this goal has to do with involving them in representation in governance structures, making them partners in their own care, policy formulation, and co-designing safety strategies. According to Daju, the commitment of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is to ensure provision of safer and higher-quality health services to all, the males and females, the child and the adult, and every Nigerian.
This commitment by the ministry is resolute, and will strengthen the health care system of the country, while building the trust of citizens in the system. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Country Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, in his goodwill speech, stated that the quality of care that is being provided to patients is often affected due to a lack of coordination and fragmentation of quality programmes, insufficient data to guide decision making, and human resource challenges.
Establishment of the practice of openness & transparency in the system.
Represented by the Deputy County Representative, Alexander Chimbaru, Dr. Mulombo asserted that the Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030 highlights essential guidelines, which includes identification of local and tailored approaches to engage patients, and families and civil society organizations in the co-development of plans, strategies, policies, programmes and guidelines to ensure increased safety of health care. It is also necessary to ensure the establishment of the practice and principle of openness and transparency in the system, and development of more efficient solutions.