“Drugs should be used in the right doses, for the right diagnoses, on the right patient, and at the right time. If we don’t obey these rights, potions can very quickly become poisons. It’s a very thin line.” –Dr. Asekhame Sonny Isemede
Medications play a critical role in achieving the ultimate goal of healthcare: to prevent diseases, protect health and help people recover from their illnesses. Whether it be for curing a condition, managing symptoms, or repairing body function, medications help keep patients safe and well.
However, as the World Health Organization reports, the harm caused by unsafe medication accounts for half of the overall preventable harm in medical care. Up to 42 billion US dollars of total health expenditure can be avoided worldwide if we prevent medication errors.
In Nigeria, a recent study reveals that the overall incidence of adverse drug events (ADEs) is unknown and poorly documented, alongside an identified 47% prevalence of self-reported medication errors amongst healthcare practitioners. Therefore, patients and their families must be informed about uncertainties, risks, and treatment choices.
In line with our commitment to protecting health and preventing diseases, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Centre for Infection Prevention and Patient Safety (CICAPS), and Patient Safety Africa, we commemorated this year’s World Patient Safety Day (WPSD) with the theme Medication Safety and the slogan Medication Without Harm.
As a key partner playing an active role in Infection Prevention and Control, of which Patient Safety is a core component, we joined in this year’s WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm to help all stakeholders – patients, practitioners, policymakers and the public – see and understand safety and quality from various perspectives, most especially, from the eyes of patients. We also focused on the need to adopt a systems approach and promote safe medication practices to prevent medication errors and reduce medication-related harm. These were done through 3 activities: a road walk, a ministerial press briefing and an online public discussion.
On Saturday, 17th September 2022, we joined 150 stakeholders from the World Health Organization Nigeria Office, Federal Ministry of Health, The West Africa Institute of Public Health, and CICAPS for a 40-minute road walk to enlighten Nigerians on the streets about Medication Safety.
All stakeholders converged at the Federal Ministry of Health Building in Abuja and at about 8:30 am, we took off, after an opening speech from the Director of Human Health Services, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi.
We covered a distance of about 2.7km as we moved through the Central Business District raising awareness.
On Monday, the 19th of September 2022, we took part in the Ministerial Press Briefing hosted by the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, ably represented by The Director of Health and Human Services, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi.
Addressing all attendees at the conference hall at the Federal Ministry of Health building, The Minister highlighted that some of the objectives of this event were to address the public on current issues and progress made so far in our hospitals and communities, regarding Medication Safety as a core component for infection prevention and control. Additional objectives were to keep the stakeholders abreast of activities currently undertaken by the Department of Hospital Services through the National Patient Safety Desk, to address evident gaps in quality and safety systems in Nigeria.
Stakeholders were drawn from partner organizations: the WHO Nigeria Office, DRASA Health Trust, FMOH, Jhpiego, WAAPH, and the media, among others, most of whom gave goodwill messages at the briefing.
The keynote speaker of the event, Dr Asekhame Sonny Isemede, Director of Patient Safety Africa, highlighted the response of the government in sponsoring the 2018 Bill for Patient Safety and lauded the efforts of the Departments of Health, Human and Hospital services of the FMOH for their efforts. He particularly appreciated their efforts to leverage the support of the experts and consultants from WHO, Patient Safety Africa and others to begin drafting policies prioritizing patient safety.
He also called for the need for strengthened collaboration and inter-professional harmony for the good of all patients.
This need was also corroborated by Niniola Williams, Managing Director of DRASA Health Trust, who had earlier stated in her goodwill message the need for all to work together to ensure that Nigerians are not afraid to seek care for fear of poor outcomes.
Attendees also had the opportunity to share their concerns regarding patient safety during a question and answer session where the Minister addressed them directly. There were also contributions and insights regarding the patient safety policy shared by Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, Prof Adebola Olayinka, and Dr Paul Kwetishe, to mention a few.
The event ended with a vote of thanks by Mrs. Olajumoke, the director of Tuberculosis Management, Federal Ministry of Health.
Twitter Spaces Conversation for Social Media
Having brought the conversation on patient safety to Nigerians on the streets via the road walk and to the public via the traditional media press briefing, we collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to host a 90-minute conversation on the topic “Medication Safety: What You Need to Know”.
The goal of the conversation was to increase awareness and adoption of best practices in regard to safe medication to the public, including Twitter users, patients, patients’ relatives, health workers, etc. This was held online using the Spaces Feature on Twitter.
467 listeners learned from our speakers, Dr. Asekhame Isemede (Director, Patient Safety Africa), Dr. Paul Kwetishe (Director of Hospital Services at FMOH) and Dr. Tochi Okwor (Program Coordinator for Infection Prevention and Control and Antimicrobial Resistance, NCDC), who answered tough questions to help raise awareness on Patient Safety and Medication Safety, highlight the dangers of unsafe medication and practices, and help the public know what to do to avoid unsafe medications and ensure safe, quality care.
Dialogues and action points on patient safety are never-ending. While we take one or few days to officially commemorate the importance of this day to our health sector and our nation’s health security at large, we are glad to continue to provide necessary support needed by the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure that policies are implemented for sustainable processes that prioritize the safety of patients, practitioners and the public.