Medical workers begin campaign on rights of patients
Medical workers, the Nigeria Labour Congress, and safety advocates have launched an initiative aimed at promoting professionalism for the enhancement of quality service delivery in health facilities.
Commemorating the 2021 World Patient Safety Day in Abuja, which had ‘Safe maternal and newborn care’’ as theme, stakeholders drawn from the Federal Ministry of Health, Patient Safety Movement Foundation, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Lawyers Arise for People Initiative, OSHAfrica, ITUC-Africa, Nigerian Nurses Forum, Nigeria Labour Congress, Occupational Health and Safety Managers, launched a one-year National Patient Safety Campaign, tagged ‘Each one, teach one campaign’.
The campaign is a patient safety education and awareness campaign designed to run through healthcare facilities, healthcare institutions of learning and communities.
President of Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHUWN), Josiah Biobelemoye, said the world patient safety day provides an opportunity to draw domestic and global attention of all relevant authorities to the challenges facing patients, healthcare workers and the urgent need to ameliorate the challenges.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Actionable plans towards achieving safe and maternal newborn care’, Safety Ambassador (Nigeria), Patient Safety Movement Foundation, Ehi Iden, said patients have rights that must be respected while accessing medical care, adding that patients suffer and are made to carry scars of unprofessional conducts of medical staffers for the rest of their lives if they are lucky to be alive.
“Lawyers Arise for People Initiative is a group of patient safety advocate lawyers. We have taken several medical harms to court through this initiative. They stand for patients who are adversely harmed in healthcare,” he stated.
Iden, who disclosed that 36 per cent of neonatal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa remains the highest in the world, blamed the development on lack of access to quality medical care by pregnant women.
While identifying pneumonia, diarrhoea, birth defects and malaria as the major causes of under-five mortalities, he stressed that malnutrition is equally emerging as the major underlying contributing factor that makes children vulnerable to severe diseases.
In Nigeria, maternal deaths reflect inequalities in access to healthcare services between the poor and the rich.
On her part, a senior nurse, Nanman Philemon Kash, said the World Patient Safety Day, which is observed on the September 17 of every year, was instituted in 2019 by the 72nd World Health Assembly, aimed at promoting global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in safety of health care, promote global action to enhance patient safety and reduce patient harm.
She explained that hospitals and other health care organisations must protect their patients from errors, injuries, accidents and infections.
Kash hinted that about 250,000 people die every year from preventable hospital errors.
Kash insisted that both patients and health workers have the same objective – recover quickly – which imposes responsibilities on both of them.
To her, patients have responsibilities they should carry out diligently.
“If as a patient you have a concern, and feel something could go wrong, or you see an error made in a hospital, you should see yourself as a stakeholder in the journey of your health recovery, therefore, it is important to be an active member of the health care team. Patients should talk to someone close or other health personnel,” she said.
According to her, complaint outlets established by hospitals for reporting errors, such as SERVICOM, suggestion box, hospital hotline, patient advocacy groups etc. should be used by patients and other stakeholders.
She further disclosed that the Patient Bill of Rights launched in 2018 by the Federal Government guarantees basic rights to whoever accesses medical care in Nigeria.