By Hassan Zaggi
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has concluded plans to train over 200,000 health workers in the African region in infection prevention and control.
This is in order to protect the health workers from COVID-19 and contribute to improve patient safety.
Already, in collaboration with partners and national and provincial authorities, WHO has trained more than 50 000 health workers in the African Region.
In a message to mark the year 2020 World Patient Safety day, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, revealed that around 31 million items of personal protective equipment have been shipped to Member States and guidance documents on best care practices are in-development, to support the creation of enabling environments for safe health workers and safe patients.
She, however, revealed that more than 41,000 health workers have been infected with COVID-19 in the African Region, accounting for 3.8% of all reported cases.
“Some countries, like Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire, have made progress in reducing the proportion of health worker infections.
“Others such as Eritrea, Rwanda and Seychelles have not recorded a single case of COVID-19 among health workers,” she noted.
According to the WHO Regional Director, in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries globally, every year, there are 134 million adverse events due to unsafe care, contributing to 2.6 million lives lost.
“Patient safety is an essential component in strengthening health systems to achieve universal health coverage, and achieving it requires collaboration and open communication between multidisciplinary health-care teams, patients and patients’ organizations, professional associations and other stakeholders.
“Action is needed to understand the magnitude of patient harm, including through transparent incident reporting to learn from mistakes with no-fault and no-blame handling of adverse events.
“Patients and their families must be enabled to take preventive, systematic measures to participate in improving the safety of care and to reduce risks to all individuals, with special attention to at-risk groups, including people with disabilities and older people.
“By pursuing patient-centred policies, redesigning processes, ramping-up hygiene practices and transforming organizational cultures, health care can be made safer,” she said.
The Regional WHO Director, therefore, called on all “to work together to protect health workers, so they can protect patients, in supportive, enabling environments for the delivery of quality health care.”