World Patient Safety Day was established in 2019 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be commemorated on the 17th September every year.  According to the WHO, 134 million people are adversely affected by unsafe care in hospitable in low- and middle-income countries contributing to 2.6 million death and an estimated $42 Billion is loss due to medication error.

This year the theme for the celebration is Health worker safety: A Priority for Patient Safety.   This recognizes the critical role of the health worker in promoting patient safety.

The Ghana College of Pharmacists is a postgraduate institution established to train fellows and specialists in pharmacy and related disciplines.  As the world commemorates World Patient Safety Day, the College draws attention to the role of health workers in general and specialist pharmacists in particular in promoting patient safety.

The specialist pharmacist may be involved in the production of quality pharmaceutical products, the supply of appropriate medicines and devices, the provision of relevant information to other health workers and patients with respect to the medicines and other pharmaceutical products they may be using and engagement with policy makers and the general public.  All these are aimed at ensuring that all citizens have optimum health outcomes whenever seeking health.

In promoting patient safety, it is important to assure the quality of medicines and pharmaceutical products supplied for the management of disease conditions and the promotion of health.  Quality assurance of medicines seeks to answer three fundamental questions that every physician, pharmacist and patient should frequently ask: Is the medicine of the right quality? Is the medicine safe? Is the medicine efficacious? To safeguard the safety of the patient therefore, pharmaceutical quality assurance must be instituted at all times during medicines development, medicines formulation and production, medicines storage and distribution, as well as during the prescribing, dispensing and the administration of medicines.

In working towards ensuring patient safety, we recognize the hazards and risks health workers are exposed to in providing care to patients all over the world. Depending on the jurisdiction, some health workers face stigma, harassment in different shapes and forms, emotional and mental issues, lack of personal protective equipment, incentives and motivation.

We also recognize that creating an enabling and blame free environment for all health workers will help them provide safe and quality care for patients and avoid errors that make the health care environment unsafe for our patients.  More than ever before, it is expedient that health worker safety is prioritised, taking into consideration the present situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ripple effect this will have on patient safety.

We salute all our health workers and call on governments, ministries and agencies to allocate resources to make health worker safety a reality.