Health consumers urged to take a proactive role in stopping COVID on World Patient Safety Day

White face mask with a map of the world is lying on a blue background.

The Consumer Health Forum of Australia (CHF) and the Australasian College of Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC) have joined forces for today’s World Patient Safety Day (17 September), urging all Australians to join in the effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The event’s organisers, the World Health Organization (WHO), have declared that this year’s theme is “Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety,” stating that stress, as demonstrated on multiple fronts during the COVID-19 pandemic, “makes health workers more prone to errors which can lead to patient harm.”

While the WHO is advocating that the public “speak up for health worker safety” as part of its call to action, the CHF and ACIPC also argue that health consumers can currently take a more proactive role in stopping COVID.

“The COVID experience is showing that everybody has a part to play in keeping us all safe. We need more recognition and support in the system to equip consumers with information to stay safe,” Leanne Wells, CEO of the CHF, said in a joint statement by the two organisations.

President of the ACIPC, Phil Russo, echoed Ms Wells’ sentiments.

“Infection prevention is everybody’s business, not just healthcare workers. We need consumers to be involved on all aspects of infection prevention. This includes research design, interventions and measuring and reporting outcomes,” Mr Russo said.

“This pandemic has put infection prevention front and centre, and we need to take this level of interest and engagement through to all other areas of infection prevention.”

This is the second annual World Patient Safety Day, after it was established during last year’s World Health Assembly in May 2019, with all 194 WHO member countries voting to support the establishment of the day.

According to the WHO, “the objectives of World Patient Safety Day are to increase public awareness and engagement, enhance global understanding, and spur global solidarity and action to promote patient safety.”

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