Press Statement By The Hon. Minister Of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire To Mark The World Patient Safety Day On Thursday 17th September, 2020

World "Patient Safety Day" was set aside in May 2019 by the World Health Assembly Resolution 72.6 on the subject “Global action on Patient Safety”, to recognise and highlight the safety of patients as a global health priority. The theme for this year is “Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety”, with the slogan “Safe health workers, safe patients”. The call for action is “Speak up for health worker safety”.

2.    These quotes fit the prevailing sentiment of the day, defined by the covid-19 pandemic, and the heroic role healthcare workers at the frontlines have played, to keep the rest of us safe. They work odd hours, suffer discomfort, stigma, risk infection and even their lives. Nigeria is among dozens of countries in the world who have lost health workers to COVID-19.

3.    This year being also the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, it is fair that global attention and emphasis should rightly be on the importance of safety for all our health workers, especially those engaged in the COVID-19 response.

4.    Global experience from the pandemic response exposed the fragility of most health systems and humbled even those thought to be the most robust. It also bared deficits in infrastructure, equipment, manpower and management. The fatigue of overburdened care providers and the psychosocial impact of covid19 on both patients and caregivers were apparent.

5.    Since only healthy and safe health workers can provide care and safety to patients, the Government of Nigeria made it a point of duty to ramp up training of health workers in infection prevention and control and supplied barrier personal protective equipment to avoid virus transmission and risk to our staff. Infected healthcare workers would face quarantine, which could mean manpower shortage and interrupt essential healthcare services.

6.    Despite all our sacrifices, more will be expected of us who have signed up for the healthcare profession. We shall be reminded that we have committed to serve humanity and that the lives and wellbeing of our patients are in our hands. In truth, ours is the noble profession, where the responsibility we are given for the lives of others  or for the others who have entrusted their lives to us, begins with ensuring that they are safe in our care, no matter the cost to us. It must be an article of faith.

7.    The Federal Ministry of Health will work on creating a specific policy on patient safety. However, the National Health Act (2014) and Patients’ Bill of Rights (2018) advocate for the safety of patients, and aspects of it are also reflected in such guidelines and measures for infection prevention and control as injection safety, firm perioperative protocols, radiation protection and pharmacovigilance. These are building blocks for consolidation into a single ‘Patient Safety Policy’.

8.    All stakeholders are called on today to support the Federal Ministry of Health in ensuring we have safe health workers and safe patients.

9.    Thank you.

FMOH Agencies

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