Health Ministry, WHO Launch Liberia’s Patients’ Charter

Health Ministry officials along other partners, including WHO officials, celebrating World Patient Safety Day at the Ministry of Health

Monrovia – The Ministry of Health (MOH) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) Liberia Office and other health partners last Thursday, September 17, launched the Liberia’s Patients’ Charter.

Performing the launch virtually, Dr. G. Gorbee Logan, Assistant  Minister for Curative Services, MOH, historicized that patients’ safety was drawn out of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights.

Dr. Logan also stated that patients’ safety is tied to the safety of health care workers, as well.

According to him, in addition to the charter helping patients, it will also help the Health Ministry’s staff.

“For example, the patients have the rights to confidentiality. However, the patients should also know that they, too, have responsibility to make full disclosure to the health workers so that they can be helped adequately,” Dr. Logan said via video link.

He indicated that the onus is now on the Health Ministry to distribute the document of the charter to every healthcare facility around the country.

The launch was done on the day that the world celebrated World Patient Safety Day under the theme: Heath Workers Safety, A Priority for Patient Safety. The  day also had a slogan: Safe Health Workers, Safe Patients.

In remarks following Dr. Logan, Dr. Francis N. Kateh, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Health Minister, stated that the journey has began for health workers in relations to how they are going to cater for patients.

At the same time he urged patients to make full disclosure of what is happening to them when they come to the health facility so they can be helped.

Adding: “A journey has began and that journey is to provide adequate care for our patients including our mothers and children.”

Earlier, a representative of WHO Liberia Office read the Message from the WHO Africa Region Director General, Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti.

“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,” Dr. Moeti said.

The WHO Regional Director further stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed that to keep patients safe, health workers must be protected, too.

“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% 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.

“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.”

She further indicated that 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. She urged that 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,” she added.