The Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, has advised the public against the misuse and abuse of medications, since it could be harmful to their health. He said using medicines when they were not needed, over-using them or limiting their use resulted in delayed care, disease progression, increased mortality and antimicrobial resistance.
“Unsafe medication practices and medication error are leading causes of injury and avoidable harm in healthcare systems across the world. And the annual cost associated with medication error is estimated at $42 billion globally,” he said.
Dr Nsiah-Asare gave the advice in an interview on preparations towards the celebration of Patient Solidarity Day, which is being observed today on the theme: “Safe medication and health for all”.
The day is used to affirm patient safety and patient centredness across the world.
It seeks to raise awareness of how patients can access safe, quality and appropriate treatments as warranted by their conditions.
Dr Nsiah-Asare observed that although medicines were crucial for wellness and the treatment of diseases and sicknesses, they could be harmful if they were not used appropriately.
“Unsafe medicines represent various threats to patients. They may contain insufficient amount or not active ingredients or dangerous ingredients, leading to drug resistance, treatment failure and even death,” he stated.
Dr Nsiah-Asare further raised concern over the increasing number of falsified and substandard medicines and medication error, a situation which, he said, had become a global concern.
He stressed the need to intensify awareness campaigns on the menace.
The director general also urged the public to always go to hospital for proper diagnosis of diseases and how to take medications efficiently.
According to him, patients had the right to receive proper health care and medications that were safe, effective and legitimate.
He also underscored the need for safe medicines in the pharmaceutical supply chain to avoid medication errors.
“Medication errors occur when weak medication conditions, such as fatigue of personnel, poor environmental conditions or staff shortage, affect any step of the medication use process, such as prescribing, transcribing, dispensing, administration and monitoring which can result in severe harm, disability or even death,” Dr Nsiah-Asare added.
Touching on customer care by health professionals, he urged the public not to fear to report incidents of rights violations against them by health professionals to the appropriate health authorities for redress.
He explained that patients had the right to ask the necessary questions on their health when they visited health facilities and that health professionals also had the responsibility to respond to patients’ health conditions.
Dr Nsiah-Asare pledged the commitment of the GHS to ensure that healthcare systems were patient-centred to guarantee patients’ safety.