Prioritizing patient safety, a call to action.

Kenya joined the world in marking World Patient Safety Day Friday, with a focus on quality care for patients, safe maternal and newborn care in the wake of disruption of essential services owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The celebrations come as global figures paint a grim picture on the burden of harm women and newborns are exposed to due to unsafe care. Statistics indicate that nearly 5,400 still births occur on a daily basis, while 810 women and 6,700 newborns lose their lives.

While leading the national celebrations held virtually, Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Rashid Aman hailed the country’s free maternity program under the Linda Mama platform, for improving the quality of care and access of skilled deliveries in line with the theme safe maternal and newborn care.

“The number of pregnant women accessing skilled delivery services increased from 65% in the year 2018/2019 to 78.5% in the year 2020/2021. These achievements were realized because of key government and stakeholder initiatives.’’ Stated CAS Rashid during the celebrations.

The head of disease prevention and control at the World health organization Dr. Joyce Onsongo said Covid-19 pandemic had led to the disruption of essential services due to breaks in supply chain and the shortage of skilled health care professionals.

Additionally, Centre for Disease Control (CDC) country director Dr. Marc Bulterys, addressing the forum, said patient safety begins with the safety of health care workers. Bultreys said CDC supported measures by Kenya to improve quality care by studying the risk factors associated with COVID-19 exposure.

“Every health care worker should be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine right now and should also have access to vaccines against influenza, hepatitis B and other vaccines that are critical” Butlery’s, told the forum.

The commemoration of the 3rd World Patient Safety day coincided with the launch of the ECHO virtual learning platform and Society for Quality Health Care- Kenya aimed at ensuring safe and high quality health care in the country. CAS Rashid also launched the Kenya National Infection Prevention and Control Strategic Plan for health care services 2021-2025, the National Action Plan for the containment and prevention of antimicrobial resistance, the national antimicrobial stewardship- guidelines for health care settings and a clinicians’ handbook on appropriate use of microbiologic diagnostic tests that includes a monitoring and evaluation framework.

The slogan for the 2021 world patient safety day ‘Act now for safe and respectful childbirth’ is a call to action to create an enabling environment for safe and respectful maternal and newborn care by investing in health worker safety, promoting an environment for childbirth, ensuring all births are attended by skilled personnel and establishing adequate infrastructure for infection prevention and control.

Started three years ago, the world patient safety day is a global event  to enhance global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in the safety of health care and promote global actions to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm.