Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor
Health ministers from over 80 countries, who are attending the Global Patient Summit in Switzerland, have endorsed the Montreux Charter on patient safety which seeks to strengthen patient safety globally.
The summit was officially opened this Friday by the President of the Swiss Confederation, His Excellency Mr Alain Berset, who called on global health ministers to unite and find workable solutions to ensure patient safety.
“Patient safety is a universal issue. It contains all areas of the health sector. Safe and high-quality care is necessary so that our citizens have trust in our healthcare systems. Quality and patient safety are essential elements that go to the very heart of the resilience of our health system. Improving patient safety globally needs the participation of all stakeholders from nursing staff to health ministers to all of us. The Montreux Charter must serve as a driver. We must work together to find workable solutions to our common challenges with regard to patient safety,” he said.
According to the World Health Organisation director general, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus there is a need for a culture change in health institutions.
“Unsafe care has become a leading cause of morbidity. More than half of these cases are preventable and this leads to a loss of trust. Patient safety is much more than having a set of rooms, it means ensuring a safe working environment sometimes these are met with fierce resistance. We need to change our culture. Patient safety is a journey, not a destination. All countries can learn from each other. We need to strengthen our system for reporting medical errors, strengthen the capacity of the health workforce, and strengthen data system for tracking. Engage patients and families and always Remember If it’s not safe it’s not care.”
Health ministers from over 80 countries also took to the platform, highlighting the strides they have made in ensuring patient safety.
Zimbabwe is being represented by Vice President General (Rtd) Dr Constantino Chiwenga who is also the Health and Child Care Minister.
“To effectively operationalise the Global Declaration on Patient Safety, my ministry has taken the following steps: on the governance of patient safety, we have established a Directorate responsible for Quality Assurance and Patient Safety. We have a fully inclusive Quality and Safety Technical Working Group comprising all Departments, Development Partners, and Client Representatives. All facilities have Quality-Improvement Teams made up of multi-disciplinary health professionals whose role is to oversee all aspects of quality improvement, including patient safety. Our National Quality Assurance and Patient Safety Policy and Strategy was developed using the WHO National Quality Policy and Strategy steps. This is underpinned by various frameworks and standards. Operating Procedures (SOPs), including guidelines on Safe-Surgery, Infection Prevention and Control and Anti-Microbial Resistance, amongst others,” Dr Chiwenga told the summit.
Kenya’s health ministry representative said, “Kenya has made great strides in infection control as well as health worker safety although Investments are urgently required in many forms so that we ensure the patients are protected at all times. We must invest in our health facilities.”
According to the World Health Organisation, unsafe patient care is among the leading causes of morbidity worldwide and as the ministers and experts head back to their respective countries, it is hoped medical errors and misdiagnoses will be eliminated to ensure patient safety for better healthcare systems globally.