The World Health Organization’s global estimates show that medication errors contribute to over 3 million deaths yearly, a situation which has been exacerbated by overwhelmed health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti made this known in her message to mark the 2022 World Patient Safety Day.
Dr Moeti said Medication errors occur commonly due to weaknesses in medication systems, and are aggravated by shortages of well-trained health staff, and poor working environments.
This she said could compromise the right of the patients to medication.
The world health leader disclosed that among low- and middle-income countries, the African Region has the highest prevalence of substandard and counterfeit medicines, which stands a18.7%.
She called for the end to the practice of administration of medication at home, purchase of medication from pharmacies on the advice of friends and relatives as well as the use of old prescriptions to buy medication to treat current ailment.
Dr Moeti explained that a 2021 study done in African shows that one in every three respondents admits self-medication to prevent COVID-19.
This she said is unacceptably high as such unguided practices often lead to dangerous consequences such as delays in treating diseases, dependence and abuse, disability and death.
According to the WHO Regional Director, 42 billion US dollars of total health expenditure worldwide could be averted if medication errors are addressed.
WHO is working with Member States to implement the WHO Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021–2030.
The Action plan is a regional patient safety strategy and road map are currently being developed to guide its implementation.
World Patient Safety Day is marked annually on 17 September, with the aim of raising awareness of the importance of people-centred care and preventing harm to patients.
The theme for this year, “Medication Safety: Medication Without Harm”