Patient safety in developing and transitional countries

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Patient safety in developing and transitional countries

Studies from a variety of developed countries show that about one in ten patients are harmed while receiving hospital care. The consequences are devastated lives and billions of dollars unnecessarily spent on prolonged hospitalization, loss of income, disability and litigation. However, very little is known about the actual harm that occurs to patients in developing or transitional countries, although the available evidence suggests that they may have an even higher risk of suffering patient harm.

Understanding the magnitude of the problem and the underlying factors represents the fi rst step towards improvement. WHO is making a concerted effort, in different parts of the world, to identify the main issues affecting safe care in developing and transitional countries and to use these data to begin to developing and implementing effective solutions. The Eastern Mediterranean/African Adverse Events Study is a large scale study carried out in six Eastern Mediterranean and two African countries, to assess the number and types of incidents that can occur in their hospitals and harm patients. These countries had the courage to voluntarily participate in this study and showed great commitment and enthusiasm in carrying out the work. To carry out this study, a collaborative model was established in which 26 hospitals from eight countries, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen participated.

This was done under the leadership of their respective Ministries of Health, thereby enhancing both the likelihood that these results would be used to make a difference, and would also help to build a critical mass of professionals trained in patient safety, which is enormously important for the future of these regions’ health services. The hospitals (and nations) that collaborated have demonstrated their dedication to improving the safety of their patients and their health systems. The tasks undertaken in this project have been wide-ranging and substantial.

The collaboration, led by the principal investigators and fostered by the technical guidance provided by the World Health Organization, offers a model for new international projects.

The political, social and institutional momentum generated around the research project has been signifi cant and we hope it will be long- lasting and helpful, not only in these regions but in others worldwide.

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