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DENOSA statement on World Patients Safety Day: African governments should prioritise investment of resources and skilling of health practitioners in their healthcare settings  

Media statement 

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 


PRETORIA – As the World Health Organization (WHO) launches today for the first time as World Patient Safety Day as means to create awareness of patient safety in our health facilities, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) would like to pledge its full support to this campaign and would call on all governments in the African continent to prioritise the skilling and continuous professional development of health practitioners and investment of resources into their healthcare settings so that patients could receive high care that is not compromised. 

Statistics from WHO reveal that 134 million adverse events occur each year in hospitals in low- to middle-income countries due to unsafe care, resulting in 2.6 million deaths annually. 

The African continent is the most hard-hit region as healthcare is still treated as an expenditure rather than an investment. This is the region where many patients still lose their lives in healthcare facilities unnecessarily due to poor infrastructure, lack of resources – including human capital – and deteriorating level of care as a result of lack of continuous professional development opportunities for health workers. 

As a result, more and more leaders from the African continent opt to go overseas for treatment of their illnesses, which is a clear sign of lack of confidence in their countries’ own healthcare systems. Recently, former state president of Zimbabwe, the late Robert Mugabe, was flown to Singapore where he was cared for. Last year, South African Deputy President, David Mabuza, flew to Russia for a routine medical check-up. In 2017, President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, spent 103 days receiving medical attention in a London hospital. And in 2014, then South African state President, Jacob Zuma, received medical treatment in Russia after an incident of poisoning, which was confirmed by then State Security Minister in 2017.    

From this, it is easy to deduce that most leaders do not believe they could receive medical treatment of good quality in their own countries when millions of patients are languishing in the same hospitals in Africa, often with poor ventilation, no sufficient supply of medication, skeleton staff and aging equipment all of which pose a safety risk to patients. 

With the processes underway to prepare for the roll-out of the National Health Insurance (NHI) in South Africa, DENOSA will continue to religiously call for investment in human resource and infrastructure into the country’s healthcare setting, especially in public health institutions so that they could all be accredited to provide NHI services, which will be a safe and quality healthcare for all people.      


Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)

For more information, contact:

Cassim Lekhoathi, DENOSA Acting General Secretary

Mobile: 082 328 9671 

Simon Hlungwani, DENOSA President  

Mobile: 082 328 9635 


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