By Joyce Ojanji

With 421 million hospitalizations worldwide, and approximately 42.7 million resulting in adverse events, stakeholders have called for patient safety measures to prevent and reduce risks, errors, and harm that occur to patients during the provision of health care.

This occurrence of adverse events due to unsafe care is likely one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability.

Dr Joyce Onsongo, World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative said patient safety means respecting their preferences, values, choices, actively seeking their feedback and insights to improve health care practices and processes.

She noted that WHO has outlined patient safety as fundamental to quality health care services and called for recognition of patients as partners not just passive recipient of health care services through involvement in decisions about their treatment, medication and care plans.

“When we actively engage patients, we not only enhance the safety of individual health care experience but also contribute to strengthening the entire health care system. Patients as partners in their care become advocates for positive change driving improvements that benefit all,” she said.

Also, the Global Patient Safety Action Plan, developed by WHO represents a significant milestone in the Global health care landscape as it outlines a comprehensive framework for improving patient safety worldwide.

She applauded Kenya’s Ministry of Health for development of National Patient Safety, Health worker Safety and Quality of care policy and Action plan in the country citing that this strategic initiative underscores Kenya’s dedication to establishing a robust framework for Patient and Health worker Safety.

Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary, Susan Nakhumicha, has pointed out the government’s commitment to ensure safety ahead of the world’s Patient Safety Day 2023 on 17th this month.

She noted that prioritising patients’ safety is a moral and ethical imperative for patients, caregivers and health care workers for their efforts in advancing safe health care practices.

According to Nahumicha, engaging patients forms trust which is the cornerstone of an environment where patients feel empowered to actively participate in their own care

“As health systems move towards universal health care (UHC), Patient care is paramount and the Patient’s voice must be heard. Engaging patients as partners in their health care journey will yield substantial benefits,” she noted.

In addition, Nakhumicha said the Ministry of health is steadfast in it’s commitment to safety of patient with policies and strategies alligned to international standards.

Moreover, Kenya’s Principal Secretary for Public Health and professional development, Mary Muthoni said that statistics from WHO indicate that around one in every 10 patients is harmed during health care and over three million deaths recorded annually due to unsafe care with the situation worse in low-middle income countries where as many as 100 people die from unsafe care.

She therefore urged all caregivers to prioritise Patient involvement in policy ,governance , safety strategies and their own care.

“A critical aspect of patient safety is the active engagement of patients in their own care. Inadequate communication between health care providers, patients and their families can lead to missed information, misunderstanding, and ultimate errors in diagnosis and treatment,” she observed.

The theme of the World’ s patient safety day is ‘Engaging Patient for Patient Safety’ and the slogan is ‘Elevate the voice of patients’.

The day aims to influence stakeholders including patients, families, policy makers, health care leaders, health care workers and patient organisations to work collaboratively towards co-designing health care.

It was established in 2019 by the 72nd World Health Assembly WHA72.6-Global Action on patient safety, 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.