Medication Errors Kill Three Million Annually – WHO –

The leadership of World Health Organization (WHO) says medication errors contribute to more than three million deaths globally every year.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, disclosed this in her message to mark the 2022 World Patient Safety Day held on September 17, 2022.

Moeti said the Safety Days aims at raising awareness of the importance of people-centred care and preventing harm to patients.

She said, “While there is limited data for the African continent, it is generally acknowledged that there is a high magnitude of unsafe medication practices.

“Poly pharmacies are particularly common amongst older people with chronic health diseases.

“Medication errors occur because of weaknesses in medication systems and are aggravated by shortages of well-trained health staff and poor working and environmental conditions for delivery of quality healthcare.

“Among low and medium-income countries, the African region has the highest prevalence of substandard and counterfeit medicines of about 18.7 per cent.

“This is unacceptably high because such unguided practices lead to dangerous consequences as a result of drug interactions.

“It also leads to incorrect administration, dosage or choice of treatment. Consequences include delays in treating diseases, dependence and abuse, disability, and even death,’’ she lamented.

“Based on current estimates, 42 billion dollars of total health expenditure worldwide could be averted if medication errors are addressed.

“Medication without harm aims to reduce severe avoidable medication-related harm by 50 per cent globally in the next five years.

“This will be done through focused activities and interventions targeting three areas – patients and the public; health care professionals and medicines and systems and medication practices.

“A regional patient safety strategy and road map are currently being developed to guide its implementation.

“Some notable highlights include support to establish and strengthen National Medicine Regulatory Authorities (NRAs), by building regulatory capacity and promoting regulatory harmonisation.

“Strengthened regulatory systems serve to eliminate barriers which impede access to safe, effective and quality-assured medical products.

“WHO already developed tools to assist member states in benchmarking NRAs to identify strengths and implement plans to address weaknesses.

“Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania have already attained Maturity Level 3, indicating their regulatory systems are functioning well, and integrating the requisite elements to guarantee stable performance.

“This reduces their vulnerability to substandard and falsified medical products,’’ she stressed.

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