His Excellency (H.E.) Minister of Public Health Dr. Hanan Mohammed Al Kuwari today inaugurated the 5th Qatar Patient Safety Week. The Week, organised by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), coincides with the celebration of the first World Patient Safety Day, which was approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) this year to enhance global understanding and solidarity to improve patient safety. The Day under is marked the slogan: "Speak up for patient safety!".
H.E. the Minister of Public Health said the MoPH plays a crucial role in ensuring that the people living in Qatar receive the safest quality care available across the globe. The ambition comes from the visionary leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as part of attaining Qatar National Vision 2030.
"Our healthcare system has progressed dramatically in the past few years, and the implementation of the National Health Strategy 2018-2022 shall make a remarkable difference to Qatar's health journey," Her Excellency said in a speech on the occasion of 5th Qatar Patient Safety Week and the accompanying scientific conference.
Patient safety has been identified as one of the pillars that guides the process of strategy development and implementation, H.E. the Minister of Public Health added.
In May 2019, the WHO endorsed the establishment of World Patient Safety Day (WPSD) to be observed annually on 17th September, she said. "The WPSD is a campaign encouraging all stakeholders in the healthcare system to raise global awareness on patient safety and encourage global solidarity and action."
As part of Qatar's commitments to the Global Action on Patient Safety, H.E. the Minister of Public Health said this year Qatar Patient Safety Week shall be joining hands with the WPSD celebrations adopting their slogan; "Speak up for Patient Safety!".
"Fear of speaking up is a persistent challenge that needs to be addressed in our collective efforts to reduce patient harm. Silence between patients and providers, between healthcare professionals working within the same facility, between public and governing bodies can inadvertently lead to inevitable harm. It is important to acknowledge everyone's role in bringing issues to light as soon as they are identified and acting proactively to mitigate risk."
Speaking up is only attained if the organisations have a well-established safety culture. It can only be achieved when everyone, from the cleaning staff to the CEO of the organization, from the patients receiving care to their family members, feels comfortable and encouraged to voice their concerns everyone has a role to play in advancing safer healthcare.
This national campaign shall provide a platform to encourage and empower the healthcare actors to explore ways to actively contribute to delivering safer care, Her Excellency said.
Following the official opening of the 5th Qatar Patient Safety Week and the accompanying scientific conference, HE the Minister toured the exhibition hall, which includes the exhibition hall of the Ministry of Public Health, the pavilions of other health institutions and the poster exhibition.
Qatar Patient Safety Week, which will continue until 21 September, is an annual event organized by the MoPH at the national-level as an initiative and an educational and awareness campaign aimed at spreading the concept of patient safety among the workforce in healthcare institutions and their employees and to keep up with the international developments in this field.
In her speech during the opening ceremony of the event, Acting Director of the Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety Department at the ministry Huda Al Katheeri said, "We launched QPSW as a national annual event in 2014 to raise awareness and spread the concepts of patient safety among all healthcare providers as well as the public across Qatar, to celebrate important patient safety initiatives implemented across our healthcare sector, listen to our local speakers talk about their achievements as well as their challenges, and listen to international and regional speakers to learn from their successes."
QPSW provides a platform to share knowledge, learn from other experiences and enhance collaboration and communication across the sector and other relevant sectors, she added
She added that today marks the first World Patient Safety Day (WPSD) that was endorsed by WHO this year during the 72nd World Health Assembly as they adopted the Global Action on Patient Safety Resolution; both of which aim to highlight the importance of patient safety as a global priority.
"We were ahead of the game as we celebrated the last two QPSW events in 2017 and 2018 around 17th of September as a follow-through to the proposal by the Second Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety in March 2017. In solidarity with the first WPSD, we adopted the WHO slogan "speak up for patient safety" as a theme for this year's QPSW," Al Katheeri added.
Al Katheeri said that speaking up on patient safety concerns can have a profound effect on preventing harm, promoting employees' psychological safety, teamwork among units, opportunities to learn and improve. It also helps in decreasing staff turnover, and ultimately costs.
Encouraging patients and family members to speak up when they perceive potential harm adds a crucial safety net as well as it improves their relationship with the care team and builds trust in the system that acknowledges their role in the safety of their loved ones. To achieve this, the organizations should encourage and empower both staff, patients and their families to speak up and voice their concerns if patient safety is at stake, she said.
She added that this year there are more than 1000 participants and 50 percent of the participants are from the private sector which shows huge interest and commitment to patient safety.
The Director of Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh and Adviser to WHO Professor Aziz Sheikh, called on Qatar to seize the opportunity to play an international leadership role in Speaking Up for Patient Safety on behalf of patients across Qatar and indeed the world.
Aziz Sheikh added that it is now well recognized that patient safety incidents are very common and that these are responsible for considerable avoidable patient harm. There however remains a fear amongst many healthcare professionals, patients and carers about openly discussing these errors, which in turn impacts adversely on the ability to learn from such events to improve patient care.
Aziz Sheikh said: "On this the first World Patient Safety Day, I will make the case for developing a culture in which errors can be discussed without fear, consider the key challenges that need to be overcome and offer suggestions on how this might achieve this at scale."
Professor Aziz Sheikh gave a presentation in which he talked about the main objectives of the Institute, some achievements in the field of patient safety, as well as an indication of priorities to be worked on during the next decade.
He stressed that the essential goal is a high-level commitment to provide an approach that ensured justice for patients in which their safety was an inalienable right so that no one who had access to health care would be harmed.
With regard to the achievements in the field of patient safety, he said that in the current era, huge leaps have been made in this regard, where the attention led to the preparation of the report issued by the National Academy of Medicine, which resulted in the creation of the so-called "International Alliance for Patient Safety" launched in 2004, and the WHO recently launched its third warning on medicines without damage.
He pointed out that efforts are being made to encourage countries to set priorities regarding patient safety, noting that this is improving, especially in understanding the risk factors as well as prevention and seeking to improve the subject of patient safety, where the safety of drugs and others have been highlighted and plans are being implemented globally to promote awareness of patient safety.
Regarding the priorities for the next decade, he noted that the first thing to focus on is the strengthening of laws, legislation and developments in this area, with emphasis on key issues, first, the safety of patients is an inherent right for them and their caregivers, second is that the guidelines for the health care professional must be protected by standards and devoted to protection, and third, any legal action should occur only in the case of serious medical and other errors.
He stressed the importance of providing the necessary support from all levels of leadership and in all areas ranging from local institutions to international organizations, as well as the need to begin to understand the learning system, reports and the importance of data and to demonstrate the ability during the next decade to translate these steps into improvements which will be introduced at the level of health care provided to patients.
The seminar on Patient Safety and Quality of Care in Emergencies and Extreme Adversity aimed to explore the definition of patient safety and quality in emergencies and extreme adversity and its impact on health services provision. In addition to, discuss and acknowledge some of the efforts done internationally, regionally and locally to address patient safety and quality of care in extreme adversity.
Senior Advisor of the Relief and International Development at the Qatar Red Crescent Dr. Khaled Nazem Diab highlighted the role played by the Red Crescent in the patient safety field. He said there is great focus on patient safety in areas of conflict.
He also pointed to the Qatar Red Crescent adopting standards for patients safety and the quality of care provided to them in accordance with the available frameworks. He stressed the importance of coordination among all organizations working in emergency conditions, which would significantly affect the care provided to patients, pointing in this regard to different emergency cases between countries, which requires different procedures.
Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response Department at the ministry Dr. Mohammad Al Hajri said the State of Qatar has a sophisticated system and infrastructure. In terms of emergency readiness, departments have been identified to deal with different emergency conditions within the national framework, which consists of three parts of preparedness, response and approach followed in accordance with WHO guidelines and recommendations.
Qatar enjoys very high cooperation and coordination between the parties. It is an advanced system where information and experience are shared so the approach starts from defining an emergency and then developing contingency plans, he explained.
He added that Qatar is on the verge of hosting the 2022 World Cup and plans will be developed and updated next year to reflect this effort and what is being done or will be done in the future.
Manager for the emergency operations in the emergency Dept in WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) Dr. Alaa Abouzeid touched on WHO's efforts and programs to ensure patient safety, improve health care quality and achieve universal health coverage in emergencies and tribulations, and the conceptual framework developed and implemented by the regional office to ensure quality health care in fragile or vulnerable areas and during conflict.
Dr. Abouzeid added this framework identifies the challenges to the implementation of quality health care in these areas, provides tools, and identifies priority services that need attention to achieve quality objectives. This happens through ensuring access to health care services and the availability of basic infrastructure, shaping a healthy environment, reducing harm to patients and populations, improving frontline clinical care and engaging and empowering patients, families and communities.
Dr. Abouzeid recommended attention to be given to health quality and safety in areas of fragile or vulnerable nature and during conflicts with a focus on informal sectors.
H.E. Ambassador of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to Qatar Kithsiri Athulathmudali spoke about the circumstances of his country that has enabled it to gain considerable experience and expertise in patient safety and quality of care.
He added that his country implements a comprehensive health care system such as community health, comprehensive health and community care. In addition, his country has a system supervised by the Ministry of Disaster Management and they do their part during a crisis or emergency.
Medical services manager and advisor to the Ministry of Health in Somalia Dr. Abdulkadir Afrah stressed the importance of coordination among the concerned parties, especially in countries suffering from crises and emergencies.
He pointed out the need for coordination between all health service providers in light of the multiplicity of local and international bodies, as well as the expansion of the services provided, especially in light of the uneven access to crisis areas.
The Ministry of Health in Somalia plays a key role, focusing on coordination among service providers, regulating, monitoring and framing services within standards to ensure patient safety.
Cover image credit: MoPH Qatar
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