Every person around the world will at some point in their life take medicines to prevent or treat illness. However, medicines do sometimes cause serious harm if taken incorrectly, monitored insufficiently or as the result of an error, accident or communication problems.
Globally, the cost associated with medication errors is estimated at US$ 42 billion annually or almost 1% of total global health expenditure.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States of America alone.
While low- and middle-income countries are estimated to have similar rates of medication-related adverse events in high-income countries, the impact is about twice as much in terms of the number of years of healthy life lost.
Many countries lack good data, which will be gathered as part of the initiative.
“We all expect to be helped, not harmed when we take medication,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.
“Apart from the human cost, medication errors place an enormous and unnecessary strain on health budgets. Preventing errors saves money and saves lives.”
Medication errors can be caused by health worker fatigue, overcrowding, staff shortages, poor training and the wrong information being given to patients, among other reasons.
Any one of these, or a combination, can affect the prescribing, dispensing, consumption, and monitoring of medications, which can result in severe harm, disability, and even death.
Recently, the WHO launched a global initiative aimed at reducing severe, avoidable medication-associated harm in all countries by 50% over the next 5 years.
The Global Patient Safety Challenge on Medication Safety aims to address the weaknesses in health systems that lead to medication errors and the severe harm that results.
“It lays out ways to improve the way medicines are prescribed, distributed and consumed, and increase awareness among patients about the risks associated with the improper use of medication,” said WHO.
Meanwhile, the 7th of April is World Health Day, this year’s theme and the campaign is depression.
According to the WHO suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds. Fortunately, depression can be prevented and treated.
According to the Mayo Clinic depression, signs and symptoms can differ in men and women. Men also tend to use different coping skills — both healthy and unhealthy — than women do.
It isn’t clear why men and women may experience depression differently. It likely involves a few factors, including brain chemistry, hormones, and life experiences.
Sources: Mayo Clinic and WHO