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Nigeria to launch patient safety, quality care strategy

by Haruna Gimba

By Zayamu Hassan

The Federal Government of Nigeria would soon launch patient safety and quality of care strategy.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire disclosed this at media briefing to mark the 2022 patients’ safety day in Abuja, Monday.

He said Nigeria is already working to develop its National Policy and Strategy on Patient Safety and Quality of care, “We are hoping it will be completed and launched this year so that it can be deployed for use in all our health facilities at all levels of care.

“The policy focuses on improving medication safety, surgical safety, safety of all medical procedures etc. Sensitization and capacity are ongoing in our Federal Tertiary Health Institutions in the form of training on medication safety, infection prevention control, and other aspects of patient safety.

“It is my hope that hospitals at all levels will be able to adopt and implement patient safety at different levels of care.”

Speaking earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said that for the policy directive of the National Drug Policy to thrive, there is the need for the federal government to develop at least, a guideline on prescription and dispensing of medicines and medical products.

The National Drug Policy 2005 was revised in 2021.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, who was represented by the WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, said that the National Drug Policy contains policy direction prescription and dispensing of medicines and pharmacovigilance.

Dr. Mulombo was represented by the Deputy Country Representative, Dr Alex Chimbaru.

According to Dr. Moeti, among low- and middle-income countries, the African Region has the highest prevalence of substandard and counterfeit medicines (18.7%).

She, however, warned that, administration of surplus medication at home, the purchase of medication from pharmacies on the advice of friends and relatives rather than trained professionals, and the use of old prescriptions to buy medication to treat a current ailment, are all common practices that should be avoided.

The WHO Regional Director disclosed that: “Weak medication systems and/or human factors are the major contributory factors to unsafe practices, with many countries lacking the capacity to detect, evaluate and prevent medicine safety issues.

“Other contributory factors include fatigue, inadequate knowledge and training, staff shortages, workplace distractions, and high workload and limited resources.

“Illiteracy, language difficulties, as well as socio-cultural and religious beliefs, also play a role.

“Based on current estimates, $42 billion of total health expenditure worldwide could be averted if medication errors are addressed.  Medication Without Harm aims to reduce severe avoidable medication-related harm by 50% globally in the next five years, through focused activities and interventions targeting three areas: patients and the public; health care professionals; and medicines, systems and medication practices.”

She revealed that the WHO is currently working with Member States to implement the WHO Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021–2030 and that a regional patient safety strategy and road map are currently being developed to guide its implementation.

The WHO disclosed that leveraging on the WHO developed tools, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was supported in the process of WHO Benchmarking for regulatory authorities to identify strengths and implement plans to address weaknesses.

“Subsequently Nigeria attained Maturity Level 3, indicating that the regulatory systems are functioning well, and integrating the requisite elements to guarantee stable performance.

“This reduces the vulnerability to substandard and falsified medical products,” Dr. Moeti said.

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