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WHO Global Initiatives

Resolution (WHA 72.6) on Patient Safety

Recognizing that Patient Safety is a global health priority, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted a resolution on Patient Safety which endorsed the establishment of World Patient Safety Day to be observed annually by Member States on 17 September.

1. Patient Safety as a global health priority
View WHA72.6

The purpose of World Patient Safety Day is to promote patient safety by increasing public awareness and engagement, enhancing global understanding and working towards global solidarity and action.

2. World Patient Safety Day

Read more on WHo Website

WHO initiatives to date

WHO’s work on patient safety began with the launch of the World Alliance for Patient Safety in 2004 and this work has continued to evolve over time. WHO has facilitated improvements in the safety of health care within Member States through establishment of Global Patient Safety Challenges. Each of the Challenges has identified a patient safety burden that poses a major and significant risk. The challenges thus far have been:

  • Clean Care is Safer Care (2005); with the goal of reducing health care-associated infection, by focusing on improved hand hygiene.
    Safe Surgery Saves Lives (2008); dedicated to reducing risks associated with surgery.
  • Medication Without Harm (2017); with the aim of reducing the level of severe, avoidable harm related to medications globally by 50% over five years.
  • WHO has also provided strategic guidance and leadership to countries through the annual Global Ministerial Summits on Patient Safety, which seek to advance the patient safety agenda at the political leadership level with the support of health ministers, high-level delegates, experts and representatives from international organizations.

WHO has been pivotal in the production of technical guidance and resources such as the Multi-Professional Patient Safety Curriculum Guide, Safe Childbirth Checklist, the Surgical Safety Checklist, Patient Safety solutions, and 5 Moments for Medication Safety (available in print and in App form).

To promote global solidarity, WHO has also encouraged the creation of networking and collaborative initiatives such as the Global Patient Safety Network and the Global Patient Safety Collaborative. Recognizing the importance of patients’ active involvement in the governance, policy, health system improvement and their own care, the WHO also established the Patients for Patient Safety programme to foster the engagement of patients and families.

Key Strategic Action Areas

The Patient Safety and Risk Management unit at WHO has been instrumental in advancing and shaping the patient safety agenda globally by focusing on driving improvements in some key strategic areas.

By focusing on these key areas to facilitate sustainable improvements in patient safety, WHO aims to enhance patient experience, reduce risks and harm, achieve better health outcomes and lower costs.

  • providing global leadership and fostering collaboration between Member States and relevant stakeholders
  • setting global priorities for action
  • developing guidelines and tools
  • providing technical support and building capacity of Member States
  • engaging patients and families for safer health care
  • monitoring improvements in patient safety
  • conducting research in the area