Patient safety

Fifty-Ninth World Health Assembly

Patient Safety
Report by the Secretariat

May 2006

On the occasion of the Fifty-ninth World Health Assembly, the Secretariat of the World Alliance for Patient Safety was requested to report back to the Assembly Members on progress achieved to date in the implementation of the 2002 WHA Resolution, WHA55.18, which urges WHO to develop norms and standards for patient safety and support Member States to frame policies that will improve the safety of care.

At the WHA session, a large number of countries from all six WHO regions spoke in support of the importance of patient safety as a global issue, outlined actions on patient safety within their own country and commended the work of the World Alliance for Patient Safety. Two non-government organizations also made interventions - the International Council of Nurses welcomed the work of the Alliance and raised the issue of how NGOs can be involved in the next Global Patient Safety Challenge. The intervention from the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering (IFMBE) welcomed a planned future focus on technology and education for patient safety and suggested ideas about what this should encompass.

In thanking Member Sates for their comments and support, Sir Liam Donaldson paid tribute to the active involvement of Member States, WHO Regional Offices and other key players in the work of the Alliance. He noted that in the past year alone, the Alliance has held patient safety meetings in five of the six WHO regions, and has been involved in 40 technical workshops and presentations in 18 countries.

Already more than 50 Member States have been actively involved in Alliance work through regional training workshops, national events, capacity-building, pilot studies and technical working groups. Since the launch of the Alliance in October 2004, significant progress has been achieved in 6 six areas:

  • The First Global Patient Safety Challenge, which for 2005-2006 is focusing on addressing health care-associated infection, developed the Advanced Draft of the WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care, that will be shortly pilot tested in districts within the six WHO regions.
  • In the area of patient involvement, Patients for Patient Safety has mobilised patient safety champions and built networks of supportive patients’ organizations from around the world, through a number of global and regional workshops.
  • The Patient Safety Taxonomy has drawn up a framework to classify data on patient safety problems for review by Member States before the end of the year.
  • An internationally agreed research agenda is being drawn up, and prevalence studies are being planned to better understand the nature of patient harm in ten developing countries by the Research to improve Patient Safety programme.
  • A wide range of Solutions to improve Patient Safety now exist and a WHO Collaborating Centre has been set up to develop and disseminate safety solutions.
  • The Reporting and Learning to improve Patient Safety programme has developed the WHO Draft Guidelines on Adverse Event Reporting and Learning Systems which will be the subject of a consultation in the later part of 2006.

WHA Display

The Alliance had a large and busy display in the foyer of the WHA immediately outside of the two main committee rooms. This included banners which highlighted the experience of patients who had been harmed as a result of errors and system failures. More than 100 Member States made contact with team members staffing the display, expressing interest in becoming more involved in the work of the Alliance.

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