The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) is working on developing and implementing a national medication safety programme.
This is done in cooperation with the WHO Office in Qatar and the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, with the participation of all stakeholders from the health and academic sectors in addition to the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector as well as patient representatives.
The initiative aims to develop a national plan for a medication safety programme, which is one of the important projects within the second national health strategy 201-8-2022, and the third national health strategy. It also aims to identify priorities and gaps with regard to medication safety systems and practices in line with the "Medication Without Harm" challenge launched by the WHO in 2017, one of the global challenges launched by WHO for patient safety.
These are essentially change-driven programmes aimed at introducing improvements and reducing risks in health systems. It is worth mentioning that Qatar has pledged to participate in the implementation of the third challenge by signing the pledge document with the World Health Organisation. The "Medication Without Harm" challenge aims to reduce the harms caused by unsafe practices and errors in the use of medication by focusing on improving medication safety, and strengthening the systems necessary to reduce the incidence of errors in the field and the resulting harms that can be avoided by 50% over the next five years.
The National Medication Safety Programme includes several phases, including a set of planned procedures, the national policy and the action plan to be developed to ensure medication safety in Qatar. It is based on four pillars: patients and the public; healthcare workers; dealing with medicines as products and systems and practices. The programme aims to develop interventions and improvements at every stage of the medication use process including prescribing, dispensing, administering, and monitoring to ensure that the medication safety principles are applied at the heart of its business in all public and private healthcare facilities.
The first phase of the programme was implemented from April to June this year by performing situation analysis to medication safety in Qatar. Meetings were held with representatives of concerned departments of MoPH, such as Healthcare Quality, Pharmacy and Drug Control, Healthcare Professions, Healthcare Facilities, E-health, Financing and Health Insurance, Strategic Planning, Performance and Innovation.
During this first phase two workshops were organised with 140 healthcare practitioners in attendance to discuss the current situation in the country to promote medication safety, adopt a list of priorities, identify gaps and challenges, as well as propose strategies and related essential interventions. Quality improvement tools and methodologies were used to collect information across the healthcare system. The workshops were attended by many senior officials at the strategic level and front line employees of the relevant authorities in the health sector, in academia, and pharmaceutical industry.
A multidisciplinary team composed of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and quality staff were invited to the workshops as they all played different roles in achieving medication safety. Also, patient representatives were invited and actively participated in the workshops as MoPH believes in the importance of involving patients and their family members in the treatment plans set for them to achieve a patient-centred healthcare.
In the same context, the Department of HealthCare Quality at the Ministry carried out field visits to some health and academic institutions in the country in the presence of a delegation from WHO.
The next steps in the National Medication Safety Programme are to develop a national medication safety policy and action plan according to the proposed priorities and interventions and in line with the proposed objectives of the National Development Strategy 2023-2030, the National Health Strategy (2023-2030), and the global action Plan on Patient Safety.
Participants at one of the preparatory workshops.