Over 41,000 Health Workers Infected With COVID-19, Says WHO



At least 41,000 health workers across Africa have been infected with the dreaded COVID-19 disease, said the World Health Organization (WHO).

It further stated that there is an urgent need to make healthcare safer by pursuing patient-centered policies, redesigning processes, ramping-up hygiene practices, and transforming organisational cultures because the lack thereof has led to the death of 2.6 million patients globally.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, made this known in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, to commemorate the World Patient Safety Day.

She said, “On 17 September, we celebrate World Patient Safety Day because to realize quality health care, the first step is to do no harm, yet in hospitals in low- and middle-income countries globally, every year, there are 134 million adverse events due to unsafe care, contributing to 2.6 million lives lost.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed that to keep patients safe, health workers must be protected, and so this year’s theme is Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety.

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“Front-line health workers are at greater risk of infection because of the care they provide to patients. In the WHO African Region, more than 41,000 health workers have been infected with COVID-19, accounting for 3.8 percent of all reported cases. Some countries, like Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire, have made progress in reducing the proportion of health worker infections.

“Others such as Eritrea, Rwanda, and Seychelles have not recorded a single case of COVID-19 among health workers.

“To protect health workers from COVID-19 and contribute to enhanced patient safety, in collaboration with partners and national and provincial authorities, WHO has trained more than 50 000 health workers in the African Region in infection prevention and control, with plans to train over 200 000 more.

“Around 31 million items of personal protective equipment have been shipped to the Member States and guidance documents on best care practices are in-development, to support the creation of enabling environments for safe health workers and safe patients.”

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Moeti added, “Often the solutions to enhance patient safety are simple and cost-effective. For example, after a Quality Management Unit was established in Sierra Leone, deaths among children in 13 high burden hospitals dropped from 15.6 percent in 2017 to 9.6 percent in 2019.

“Patient safety is an essential component in strengthening health systems to achieve universal health coverage, and achieving it requires collaboration and open communication between multidisciplinary health-care teams, patients and patients’ organizations, professional associations, and other stakeholders.

“Action is needed to understand the magnitude of patient harm, including through transparent incident reporting to learn from mistakes with no-fault and no-blame handling of adverse events.

“Patients and their families must be enabled to take preventive, systematic measures to participate in improving the safety of care and to reduce risks to all individuals, with special attention to at-risk groups, including people with disabilities and older people.

“By pursuing patient-centered policies, redesigning processes, ramping-up hygiene practices, and transforming organizational cultures, health care can be made safer.” (The Nation)

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