The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti disclosed that in the WHO African Region, more than 41,000 health workers have been infected with COVID-19. She made the disclosure on the occasion of the World Patient Safety Day.
According to her, some countries, like Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire have made progress in reducing the proportion of health worker infections.
“Countries such as Eritrea, Rwanda, and Seychelles have not recorded a single case of COVID-19 among health workers. Front-line health workers are at greater risk of infection because of the care they provide to patients.
She explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed that to keep patients safe, health workers must be protected, and so this year’s theme is Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety.
“On 17 September, we celebrate World Patient Safety Day because to realize quality health care, the first step is to do no harm, yet in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries globally, every year, there are 134 million adverse events due to unsafe care, contributing to 2.6 million lives lost.”
Moeti added that WHO has trained more than 50 000 health workers in the African Region in infection prevention and control, with plans to train over 200 000 more.
“Around 31 million items of personal protective equipment have been shipped to the Member States and guidance documents on best care practices are in-development, to support the creation of enabling environments for safe health workers and safe patients.”
In the same vein, the Regional Director added that patients and their families must be enabled to take preventive, systematic measures to participate in improving the safety of care. By reducing risks to all individuals, with special attention to at-risk groups, including people with disabilities and older people.
Patient safety is an essential component in strengthening health systems to achieve universal health coverage.