A Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Bernard Okoe Boye, has commended health workers for their dedication to duty, especially in the management of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
He said even though their effort had led to a decline in the rate of infections, the pandemic had unveiled the challenges and risks health workers faced globally, including the contraction of infections, violence, stigma and psychological and emotional trauma.
The minister, who made the commendation at this year’s World Patient Safety Day celebration in Kumasi yesterday, expressed concern over the way many health workers worldwide had contracted the disease, with some losing their lives in the line of duty.
The theme for the celebration was: “Health worker safety: A priority for patient safety”.
Dr. Okoe Boye also said the pandemic had exerted unprecedented pressure on health workers and created a stressful environment which made them prone to errors, sometimes in the management of cases.
Notwithstanding the pressures, he said, the pandemic had helped Ghana to increase its polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing capacity from 1,200 to 600,000 a day.
The minister said the objective of the global celebration was to raise awareness of the importance of health workers and patients’ safety.
It was also to engage multiple stakeholders and adopt multi-modal strategies to improve the safety of health workers and patients, he said.
It was also to create an avenue for the implementation of urgent and sustainable actions which recognised and invested in the safety of health workers as a corrective approach for patient safety, he added.
The Medical Director of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), Prof. Baffour Kofi Opoku, defined patient safety as “the prevention of harm to patients or freedom from accidental or preventable injuries produced by medical care”.
In ensuring patients’ safety, he said, emphasis must be “placed on the system of care that prevents errors, learns from the errors that unfortunately do occur and utilises the lessons learnt to improve on the system”.
He said KATH, in 2003, had established a quality assurance unit, headed by a deputy director, to receive complaints, address problems and also ensure the usage of standard operating procedures and guidelines in the management of patients.
In a statement to commemorate the day, the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH), Mr. Benjamin Kwame Botwe, said the pharmacist-to-population ratio in Ghana, which is about 1:15,000, was far below the WHO recommendation of 1:2,000.
He said pharmacists equally faced workplace hazards, which were amplified during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He, therefore, called on stakeholders in the health sector to ensure safe working procedures and environment and improved working conditions for health professionals.
“We believe that implementing system changes and practices are crucial to the improvement of safety at all levels of health care. Specialised occupational health services and insurance coverage against occupational injuries and diseases should also be made available to all health professionals, including pharmacists in all sectors,” Mr. Botwe added.
All 194 World Health Organisation member states, at the 72nd World Health Assembly in May 2019, endorsed the establishment of World Patient Safety Day (Resolution WHA72.6), to be marked annually on September 17.
The objectives of the event are to increase public awareness and engagement, enhance global understanding and spur global solidarity and action to promote patient safety.