Patient safety, a priority for the Kingdom of Eswatini
The Kingdom of Eswatini joined the rest of the world in commemorating the first ever World Patient Safety Day on 17 September 2019. The theme for this year’s celebration was "Patient Safety: a global health priority.", “Lets speak up for patient safety!”. The theme calls for promotion of open communication for learning from errors and to emphasise the importance of patient safety, as well as increasing the voice of the patient.
A community event to commemorate the day was held at Eboli clinic, one of the high volume primary healthcare clinics in the Lubombo region. The clinic was chosen due to its high standards in providing quality healthcare services. The clinic is leading in fostering positive partnerships with the community in patient care, a practice that needs to be emulated by all health facilities in the Kingdom.
Some community members who attended the event highlighted that the clinic provides high quality services. Zanele Mkhabela, a 21-year old female said, “The clinic provides all services needed by young people, including family planning. At the clinic, nurses put safety first, not exposing patients to diseases while seeking treatment”. Mr Kenneth Nyawo, a pensioner living with diabetes mellitus said that he feels safe at the clinic as health workers put patients’ safety as top priority. He also said that over and above the cleanliness of the facility, patients are given the right medicines for their diseases.
The health workers at the clinic are putting efforts in ensuring patient safety. Available evidence shows that half of the global disease burden from patient harm originates at primary healthcare level and up to 80 percent of harm in these settings is preventable. Efforts to improve the health facility environment, enhance practice of infection prevention and control, and adherence to standard operating procedures would go a long way in addressing this problem. This may include improving diagnosis, prescription and the rational use of medicines.
The Director of Health Services, Dr Vusi Magagula highlighted the progress made by the country towards improving patient safety. The ministry of health among other things has developed and is implementing a National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines and Healthcare Waste Management Plan. Blood and blood products as well as radiation safety policies are in place. There is a quality management programme as well as an electronic client satisfaction feedback mechanism.
Dr Khosi Mthethwa , the WHO Health Systems Strengthening Officer congratulated the country on the progress towards provision of quality services and patient safety. Dr Mthethwa emphasised that strong health systems are important in addressing patient safety issues as well as the safety of health care workers. She said the country is encouraged to develop and implement national policies, strategies, standards, guidelines and tools on safe health-care practices; allocate adequate funding and human resources for health and strengthen mechanisms for forging strong partnerships to adequately involve patients and civil society in the improvement of patient safety.
“WHO will continue to relay importance of patient safety as the foundation of achieving Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals. WHO is also committed to engage key stakeholders in the development and implementation of patient safety strategies,” she said.