Accra, Sept. 18, GNA - Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health (MoH), has urged all agencies under the health sector to align their policies and programmes with the National Healthcare Policy, and also ensure collective participation.
He said this would ensure the sustainable achievement of the set goals of the national policy, which included Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and high-quality healthcare delivery and eventually the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Health Minister gave the advice in a speech read on his behalf at the third National Patient Safety and Healthcare Conference 2021, held in Accra on the theme: “No Quality, No Coverage. Safe Maternal and Newborn Care Now”.
The occasion also saw the launch of the ‘Patient Safety Day’ which is commemorated annually on September 17, as a special day to create awareness about patient safety.
Mr Agyeman-Manu highlighted the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed some of the areas in the healthcare system that had weaknesses, but fortunately, a lot of these issues had been articulated in the National Healthcare Policy.
He said the Ministry was committed to high standards of patient safety as a component of quality, and said as the Government advanced in its Agenda 111, not only would it focus on coverage, but also quality.
He however hinted that in recent years the number of cases of medical negligence were going up, not because some patients and families were becoming too conscious of their rights, but also because not much focus had been given these areas.
He called for the support of the media in educating the public on patient safety and advocating for high standards of care within the country’s health care delivery system, especially for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and children.
He reminded the public that the COVID-19 was still around and so there was the need for all to continue adhering to all the safety and hygiene protocols to help win the fight.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said it was gratifying that the day was shining light on Maternal and Newborn safety, and recounted the many efforts made by the GHS in terms of guidelines, Code of Conduct and patient safety, but stressed that the problem with this was how to deepen implementation
He walked the participants at the meeting through the importance of the network of practices as a way of achieving UHC, and the synergy between institutional care and family health.
Nana Ama Serwaa Bonsu, the Queen mother of Bekwai, and President of the Queen mothers Foundation, also highlighted on the need for compassion or professionalism, saying the common cause of medical error was poor communication and that the need to improve it.
She said most patients often mix orthodox medicines with herbal preparations, and there was the need to ensure that communication was clear in terms of what to do to prevent health complications.
She further urged healthcare professionals to learn not to condemn, and also the importance of confidentiality and privacy of patients.
Dr Francis Kasolo, the WHO Country Representative, said globally, 2.6 million people die annually due to medical errors, and that many of these errors were preventable, especially if best practices were scaled up at the point of use, and expressed the WHO’s comment to support GH in its efforts.
The USAID recalled the progress that Ghana had made, but said there was the need to do more, indicating that although the country had improved in coverage, it had not improved in quality, and stressed on three areas that needed focus and attention.
These were patient centred care, integrated health services, and sustainable health finance.
Mrs Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, the President, Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA), said though patient safety was the core of nurses and midwives, these patients were safest in the hands of skilled professionals.
She said there was the need to pay much attention to advancing the skills and quality of nursing and midwifery saying “the days of axillary should be over”.
The GRNMA President also lobbied for the Colleges, calling for the need to pay attention to quality care and help nurses and midwives to acquire a post graduate qualification.
She also pointed out to the importance of changing the narrative of nursing or midwifery to a point where people could now say that “not only are our Ghanaian nurses competent but they are also compassionate”.
Dr Justice Yankson, the President of the Ghana Medical Association, said though there had been great progress in terms of patient safety, there was still a lot of work to be done.
“Generally, we do not have a safety culture in our health facilities”, citing inadequate funding, poorly trained health workers, limited resources and infrastructure.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic had thought the country the lesson that achieving patient safety was impossible without first attending to health workers safety, therefore it was important to make this area a priority of their work.
A representative from the World Bank, said though Ghana was well positioned, the government must move beyond coverage and number of hospitals built, to ensure that the quality of care provided was of high standard.