WHO discloses cause of over 3 million deaths annually

As the world marks World Patient Safety Day today, global estimates according  to the World Health Organisation, WHO, has shown  that medication errors contribute over 3 million deaths annually.

The estimates by WHO,  revealed that the  situation  has been exacerbated by overwhelmed health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The WHO report  to mark this years event tagged:  “Medication Safety: Medication Without Harm”, noted that about one in every four cases of preventable medication harm is clinically severe, or life-threatening.

The World Patient Safety Day is marked annually on 17 September, with the aim to raise awareness of the importance of people-centred care and preventing harm to patients.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti explained in her message to mark the day that medication errors occur most commonly due to weaknesses in medication systems, and are aggravated by shortages of well-trained health staff, and poor working and environmental conditions for delivery of quality health care.

She said patients’ rights to medication without prejudice can be compromised through inappropriate prescribing, transcribing, dispensing, administration and monitoring practices.

Dr. Moeti said based on the estimates, a total of US$ 42 billion of total health expenditure worldwide could be averted if medication errors are addressed. 


The WHO Regional head said medication without harm  reduces severe avoidable medication-related harm by 50 percent  globally in the next five years, through focused activities and interventions targeting three areas: patients and the public; health care professionals; and medicines, systems and medication practices.