Patient and health worker safety has been severely compromised by the pandemic. During this time, even as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we’ve all come to the realisation that we could all become a patient in a split second — health workers, politicians, celebrities, scientists, families, and entrepreneurs alike. World Patient Safety Day (WPSD), observed annually on 17 September, aims to raise global awareness about patient safety and call for solidarity and united action by all countries and international partners to reduce patient harm. Patient safety focuses on preventing and reducing risks, errors and harm that happen to patients during the provision of health care. World Patient Safety Day was established in May 2019 when the 72nd World Health Assembly adopted resolution on ‘Global action on patient safety’. Each year is dedicated on a different theme. Unfortunately, women and new-borns, are amongst these groups who suffer a lot. Even before the pandemic, approximately 810 women and 7000 new-borns died daily, with the causes occurring mainly around the time of childbirth. About 2 million babies were also stillborn every year, with over 40 per cent occurring during labour. Most of these deaths and stillbirths are avoidable through the provision of safe and quality care by skilled health care professionals working in supportive environments.
In response, the theme selected for World Patient Safety Day 2021 is ‘Safe maternal and new-born care’. Since maternity care is also affected by issues of gender equity and violence, women’s experiences during childbirth have the potential to either empower or to inflict damage and emotional trauma on them. Therefore, this year’s campaign slogan, ‘Act now for safe and respectful childbirth’, calls to accelerate the actions necessary for ensuring safe and respectful childbirth. Since women’s experiences during childbirth are also affected by issues of gender equity and violence, this week You! highlights World Patient Safety Day and the important notion of respectful care and its linkages with safety.
Pregnancy and childbirth shouldn’t be a game of chance: Every two minutes, a woman somewhere in the world dies from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Maternal mortality is nothing short of an epidemic, yet the majority of these deaths can be prevented if women have access to antenatal advice and support, trained midwives and birth attendants, life-saving treatments, and well-equipped health clinics and hospitals. The realisation of the ‘right to health’ cannot be achieved through direct services alone; large-scale and sustainable change requires to address underlying and systemic factors, including gender inequality, policy barriers and power imbalances that have an impact on health. Work with community leaders, women and health workers to understand and address the reasons for the high maternal death rate. Challenge social and gender norms so women can make decisions for their own health and well-being.
Every child deserves the chance to live a healthy and secure life. However, 19,000 children younger than 5 years old die every day and more than 7 million children will die before their 5th birthday. Nearly all of these deaths occur in third world countries and almost every one of them can be prevented. Help children in the poorest communities though nutritional support, vaccinations for children affected by conflict and disasters and treatment for diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and polio. Invest in much needed basics such as adequate nutrition, bed nets and skilled health workers to keep children alive.
Women in pregnancy and around the time of childbirth: Speak to your health worker about how you can reduce safety risks during pregnancy and around the time of childbirth. Advocate the adoption of best practices at the point of care to prevent avoidable risks and harm to all women and new-borns during childbirth.
Spouses or partners, families and communities: Speak up for safe and respectful maternal and new-born care.
Health workers: Build your competencies to provide safe and respectful maternal and new born care. Create an enabling environment for safe and respectful maternal and new born care.
Policy-makers and programme managers: Prioritise safety in maternal and new born services and act now for safer health care systems.
Raise global awareness: Talk about issues of maternal and new-born safety, particularly during childbirth. Engage multiple stakeholders and adopt effective and innovative strategies to improve maternal and new-born safety.
* Keep your hands clean. Regular hand cleaning is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and spreading germs.
* Take antibiotics only when your provider thinks you need them. Ask if your antibiotic is necessary. If you take antibiotics when you don’t need them, you’re only exposing yourself to unnecessary risk of side effects and potentially serious infections in the future. If you do need antibiotics, take them exactly as they’re prescribed.
* Watch for signs of infection and its complications, like sepsis. Get care right away—don’t delay.
* Tell your doctor if you think you have an infection, or if your infection is not getting better or is getting worse.
* Get vaccinated against flu and other infections to avoid complications.