Service delivery and safety

About us

The WHO Service Delivery and Safety (SDS) Department supports countries in moving their health systems towards universal health coverage through increased access to safe, high quality, effective, people-centred and integrated services.

With the launch of the WHO Programme Budget 2014-15, the Health Systems and Innovation Cluster has also launched SDS as a new department as a “centre of excellence” within WHO, working externally and across the Organization to build evidence and promote models and solutions for improved health service delivery. SDS works across the care continuum, from preventive and primary care to hospital services and long term care, to palliative care.

The true objective of the Department is to help countries “rethink health care” in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their health systems. With such a broad mandate, SDS work is based on the following principles:

  • A focus on equitable and timely access to much-needed high quality, safe health services;
  • A culture of quality assurance and improvement;
  • A foundation of knowledge, evidence, expertise and experience in service delivery science;
  • A focus on ethics, cost-effectiveness and sustainability in service delivery models;
  • A need to strengthen leadership and accountability.

Our vision

To identify, develop and disseminate knowledge, models for effective interventions, and innovative tools, to help countries increase the quality, safety, integration and people-centredness of their health service delivery.

Our mission

To identify, develop and disseminate knowledge, models for effective interventions, and innovative tools for countries to increase the quality, safety, integration and people-centredness of health service delivery. The Department will accomplish this mission working across the organization, and engaging collaboratively with Member States and with major external constituencies.

The core functions of WHO SDS are grouped into four integrated areas:

  • Services organization and clinical interventions – This area covers a range of health services design issues: integrated people-centred care; primary care; hospital care; service delivery networks; regulation and accreditation; performance assessment; emergency and essential surgical care; blood and transfusion safety; and organ transplantation.
  • Patient safety and quality improvement – This area covers a range of issues related to improving the safety and quality of health care: patient safety partnerships; injection safety; infection prevention and control; strategies, guidelines and tools, including safety and quality checklists; global networks for patient safety; patient and family engagement; reporting and learning systems; safety and quality indicators; and education and training for safety and quality.
  • Traditional and complementary medicine – This area focuses on multiple emerging dimensions, including policies on traditional and complementary medicine (TCM); regulation of TCM products, practice and practitioners; integration of TCM into health systems and best practices; and TCM research, education and training. At a time when traditional and complementary medicine use is rising strongly in many parts of the world, more work is needed in areas of safety, quality, effectiveness, guidelines and knowledge management.
  • Emerging areas and campaigns – This area focuses on cross-cutting issues for the Department. It currently covers the following issues: Ebola response; health systems resilience; universal health coverage and quality of care; mHealth and eHealth for health services; antimicrobial resistance; global campaigns; global partnerships and innovations; global reports; knowledge management; palliative care; and genomics and regenerative medicine.

Contact Information

Service delivery and safety
Health Systems and Innovation
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27