ZIMBABWE last week joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Patient Safety Day at a time when the world is struggling to find a World Health Organisation certified medication for Covid-19.
World Patient Safety Day is commemorated annually on September 17, and this year’s theme is, Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety, with the slogan Safe health workers, Safe patients and calling for action to Speak up for health worker safety.
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro, represented Zimbabwe at the virtual commemorations where he decried avoidable harm to patients.
“The current situation that sees thousands of patients across the world, and even in Zimbabwe, suffering avoidable harm, or are put at risk of injury, while receiving health care every single day is unacceptable,” said Dr Mangwiro.
“Patient safety is a health care discipline that emerged with the evolving complexity in health care systems and the resulting rise of patient harm in health care facilities.
“It aims to prevent and reduce risks, errors and harm that occur to patients during provision of health care. Key to the discipline is continuous improvement based on learning from errors and adverse events.”
Dr Mangwiro said Zimbabwe placed the health care worker at the centre of the health delivery system, saying the welfare of health care workers took priority if the health delivery system was to get to the levels Zimbabwe desired.
“Traditionally, systems, policies and practices in health care have been focusing on the patient and not on the healthcare workers to the detriment of the very goal of looking after the patients, he said.
“It is our time to take “Care of the Carer”. However, the health sector is a special sector with its own unique hazards and risks which need specific controls.”
Dr Mangwiro said there was need to continue educating both patients and health workers on the importance of safety in health care.
“Also remember your own safety starts with you: Take care of your physical and mental health, he said. “A safe and supportive work environment for health care workers is and will remain the chief enabler to achieving safe patient care.”
The commemorations come at a time Zimbabwe has streamlined the operations of the Health and Child Care Ministry with a new sustainable funding model to ensure far greater effectiveness, and a new work ethic for staff.
The Minister of Health and Child Care, who is also the Vice President, Cde Constantino Chiwenga, has already put in a structure that prioritises the welfare and remuneration of health workers at the core of this shake-up.