Ghana commemorates Patient Solidarity Day

Accra- Ghana on Friday, joined the rest of the world to commemorate this year’s Patient Solidarity Day (PSD) focusing on the theme: Safe Medication and Healthcare for All.

The annual events, which falls on December 7, was set aside by the World Health Organization (WHO), to engage support from all stakeholders from around the world, to rally around one key issue facing patients, and raise awareness by hosting events and showing support for the Day.

It also provides an opportunity to discuss common problems, search for appropriate solutions and help health care system stakeholders understand patient, rights, needs and improve service delivery.

Patient Solidarity means people working together to achieve fair and impartial access to quality health care, and ensuring that such services are accessible, affordable, equitable and of good quality for everyone.

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), in an earlier interview with the press, said patient safety was a critical public health issue, which played a crucial role in enabling and supporting health systems achieve sustainable and effective Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which was one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He said the theme for the celebrations, would therefore allow discussions on the fact that patients must have access to safe, quality and appropriate treatments as warranted by their conditions.

However, safe medicines have currently become a global concern in view of the increasing numbers of falsified and substandard medicines as well as medication errors, he said.

Unsafe medication practices and medication errors are a leading cause of avoidable harm in health care systems across the world, and globally the cost associated with medication error is estimated at USD 42 billion annually, he said.

The Director-General said such occurrences, marked with very personal stories and experiences of sufferings from patients represented a high global public health burden in regard to physical, psychological and economical losses.

He said while patients tend to believe that they were receiving correct treatment, very often they in fact could potentially be getting dangerous and harmful medicines that could not only cause more illness or, and disability, but also end in death.

Poor patients care, he said, could undermine all the efforts being made by the government to achieve UHC, and encouraged patients to insist on their rights to quality treatment and to report any unsatisfactory conducts encountered with health facilities to the appropriate authorities for redress.

Hence the year’s celebration presented an opportunity to advocate for safe medicines for all by holding all stakeholders accountable on commitments they have made to achieve UHC in all countries including Ghana, because without patient safety universal health coverage cannot be achieved.

Dr Nsiah-Asare highlighted on the fact that if the principle of patient safety was not properly guaranteed in health policy and practice, no healthcare system could be viewed truly as patient centric.

He said it was important that health systems moved away from a disease-centred approach towards integrated, patient-centred health care services, which required the active involvement of patients to adhere to their treatments, make behavioural changes and ensure self-manage to prevent incidences of drug resistance.

The WHO on the Day, called on everyone involved in health care to ensure that the provision of care is respectful and responsive to each individual patient’s needs and values, and to build a respectful relationship between patients and health workers, including good communication and shared knowledge as well as appropriate working hours and waiting times.

It said it was only through a multi-stakeholder collaboration that could yield progress in outlining the necessary steps to tackle unsafe medicines for all, and called on all stakeholders to develop healthcare strategies that would guarantee safe medicines for all.

Source: Ghana News Agency