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Partners Call for Safe Maternal and Newborn Care on National Patient Safety Day

The Ministry of Health and partners have collectively called for safe maternal and newborn care in Ghana at the 3rd National Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality Conference in Accra. The conference, which culminated in the observation of the 2021 Patient Safety Day, was under the theme: “No Quality, No Coverage; Safe Maternal and Newborn Care Now”.

The 2021 conference, organized in partnership with Ghana’s Network for improving the Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, incorporated a National Learning Forum for Quality of Care. The platform provided the opportunity for point of care quality improvement teams to share knowledge of quality improvement works done to promote safe quality care aimed at reducing maternal and newborn morbidities and deaths. 

In Ghana, about 80% of births occur in health facilities. In spite of this high coverage, maternal mortality and neonatal mortality remain high at 319 per 100,000 live births and 25 per 1000 live births respectively. 

Dr Francis Kasolo, WHO Country Representative noted that the statistics raise a red flag on the safety and quality of care received by mothers and their newborns, and emphasized that harm to patients during health care is avoidable, yet millions of patients are harmed while receiving care. He therefore, appealed to all stakeholders in health to make patient safety an urgent global public health concern since adding that “investments in reducing patient harm can lead to significant financial savings, improved system efficiency, and more importantly better patient outcomes”.   Mr Kwaku Agyeman, the Minister for health, said the Ministry was committed to high standards of patient safety as a component of quality, adding that, as the Government advanced in its Agenda 111, not only would it focus on coverage, but also quality.

He, however hinted that in recent years the number of cases of medical negligence were going up. This he said, was not just because patients and families were becoming conscious of their rights, but also because not much focus has been given to these areas.

Mr Agyeman Manu called for the support of the media in educating the public on patient safety and advocating for high standards of care within the country’s health care delivery system, especially for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and children.   Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), iterated that the safety of patients, including maternal and newborns, were of great concern to the GHS for which reason it had made effort to develop the implementation Guidelines for the National Healthcare Quality Strategy. He further explained Ghana’s concept of Network of Practice as a strategy to achieving Universal Health Coverage.

Nana Ama Serwaa Bonsu, the Queen mother of Bekwai, and President of the Queen mothers’ Foundation, also highlighted the need for compassionate, professional and respectful care by health staff. She said that a common cause of the medical error was poor communication and that the need to improve it. She urged healthcare professionals not to condemn, and also acknowledge the confidentiality and privacy of patients.   The World Health Organization used the occasion to announce plans to support the review of the National Healthcare Quality Strategy, and an assessment of patient safety implementation activities that will inform the finalization of the National Patient Safety Policy.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.