Medication Errors Kill 3m People Annually – WHO
The WHO says medication errors contribute to more than three million deaths globally every year.
Its Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, made the declaration in her message to mark the 2022 World Patient Safety Day.
The Day is observed annually on Sept. 17 to raise global awareness about patient safety and to call for solidarity and united action by all countries and international partners to reduce patients harm.
Moeti said the Days aims at raising awareness of the importance of people-centred care and preventing harm to patients.
She noted that medication errors were exacerbated by overwhelmed health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to her, about one in every four cases of preventable medication harm is clinically severe, or life-threatening.
“While there is limited data for the African continent, it is generally acknowledged that there is a high magnitude of unsafe medication practices,’’ she noted.
Moeti said that the Day was specifically designed to draw attention to the need to improve systems to support safe medication and address unsafe practices.
According to her, it focuses on three primary areas – high-risk situations, transitions of care and “polypharmacy’’, which is the use of multiple medicines at once.
“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,’’ she said.
She decried the administration of surplus medication at home; the purchase of medication from pharmacies on the advice of friends and relatives rather than on prescription by trained professionals.
Moeti stressed that the use of old prescriptions to buy medication to treat current ailment is a common practice that should be stopped.