In low- and middle-income countries in the Southeast Asia region of the World Health Organization, patient harm due to unsafe care contributes to an estimated 134 million adverse events annually, resulting in around 2.6 million deaths, the global body said in a press release.
Unsafe medication practices and errors can occur at different stages of the medication use process and can result from weak medication systems and/or human factors such as fatigue, poor environmental conditions and staff shortage.
Highlighting the urgent need for patient safety, the organisation said that there was an urgent need to prevent avoidable injury and harm in health care systems, with a focus on ending unsafe medication practices and medication errors.
The release added that in addition to causing significant disability and death, unsafe medication practices and medication errors cost an estimated $42 million across the world annually.
Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for Southeast Asia, sharing the information, explained that since 2015, the region has made targeted efforts to reduce unsafe medication practices and medication errors, with a focus on addressing counterfeit and substandard products, and enhancing patient safety and reporting systems.
“This is in line with the Region’s Strategy on Patient Safety 2016–2025, as well as its flagship priority on achieving universal health coverage, with the aim of ensuring access for all to safe, quality and affordable medicine,’’ she said.
Stating that patient safety is everyone’s business, Dr. Singh said that no one goes to a health facility to get sick; no one takes medication that they know to be substandard, counterfeit, inappropriate or injurious to their health.
“Improving and ensuring patient safety, including by reducing unsafe medication practices and errors, is a growing regional and global challenge that together we must not just meet but overcome,’’ she said.