WHO Executive Board recommends the Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030 to 74th World Health Assembly

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

We at IAPO are extremely delighted that on Thursday 21st January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) Member States and non-state actors expressed their unanimous support to the proposed Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030 as a key instrument to guide patient safety improvements at all levels. The WHO Executive Board adopted the ‘Decision’ on Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030’, and recommended its adoption to the 74th World Health Assembly, to be held in May 2021.

IAPO is committed to improving patient safety in order to eliminate avoidable harm and risk of harm for all patients and so we welcome the global action plan.

The global action plan which is built on 6 guiding principles and 7 strategic objectives is a solid basis from which all health stakeholders will be able to promote patient safety globally. It will also serve as an umbrella framework providing strategic direction for concrete actions to be taken by countries and their care facilities to improve patient safety for the next 10 years.We commend the WHO secretariat for facilitating an inclusive consultation process in the development of the plan and for including our comments in the final version.

We at IAPO are proud to be part of the WHO patient safety community and are convinced that the global action plan has the potential of strengthening patient safety globally.

We thank WHO's Dr Neelam Dhingra of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Unit, in the Service Delivery and Safety Department for having advocated and succeeding in getting the patient centred WHO Flagship Global Patient Safety Plan 2021-2030 adopted and for having engaged patients widely during a very difficult time in the middle of a pandemic to draft this patient co-created masterpiece. 


Summary of proceedings at the WHO Executive Board


Patient Safety has been recognized as a global public health priority, essential for achieving UHC and SDGs. Member States and non-state actors expressed their unanimous support to the proposed Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030 as a key instrument to guide patient safety improvements at all levels.

The critical role of patient safety in the current COVID-19 pandemic and its interlinkages with health worker safety were highly emphasized. WHO has recently released a ‘Health Worker Safety Charter’ urging definitive actions to provide a safe working environment to health workers. In this context, education, training and capacity building of health professionals, adequate staffing and regulation on workload across the workforce, infection prevention and control, medication safety, access to COVID-19 vaccines, work environment, mental health and well-being of health workers were highlighted as key areas and prerequisites for ensuring patient safety. (Member States - Austria, Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Norway, Spain, Tonga, Thailand; Non-State actors in official relations with WHO - International Council of Nurses, International Ergonomics Association, Medicus Mundi International, Public Services International, World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists)

A wide range of national programmes and priority actions have been initiated by countries and partners, particularly since the adoption of WHA72.6 resolution on global action on patient safety in 2019, demonstrating a high level of global commitment to eliminate avoidable harm in health care. It was noted that the global action plan would serve as an umbrella framework for all stakeholders and provide a roadmap for action for the next 10 years. It was emphasized that concrete actions in this direction would differ among MSs, and implementation of the global action plan at country level should include situation analysis and identification of country-specific priorities and needs.

The importance of developing national patient safety policies, strategies and action plans, aligned with the global action plan, and developing innovative solutions using local resources for sustainability was highlighted. WHO support to countries in developing and evaluating national action plans, particularly in low- and middle-income countries and settings of extreme adversities was requested. (Argentina, Brazil, India, Japan, Kenya, Philippines, Russian Federation, Sudan, Tunisia, UK)

Patient safety measurement and the need to establish baseline and evaluate progress on defined process and outcome indicators was underscored. There is a need to establish transparent reporting and accountability mechanism and share progress on strategies and targets set out by the global action plan. WHO technical support was requested in developing tools and resources to measure progress and improve patient safety, in line with objectives proposed in the global action plan. (Bangladesh, China, Israel, Jamaica, Republic of Korea, Thailand, USA)

Safety culture and patient engagement were identified as key elements for effective and sustainable patient safety improvements at all levels. (Australia, Bangladesh, Chile, Norway, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sudan; Non-State actors in official relations with WHO - International Alliance of Patients' Organizations, the International Society for Quality in Health Care, World Organization of Family Doctors)

Major emphasis was drawn on the need for multisectoral collaboration, engagement of all stakeholders and multilateralism for patient safety, which aligns with the global action plan. (Austria, Bangladesh, China, India, Oman, Sudan)

A number of MSs applauded the creation of Global Patient Safety Leaders Group under Saudi Arabia G20 Presidency in 2020, and the crucial role for maintaining political momentum through different mechanisms, including the annual Global Ministerial Summits on Patient Safety was emphasized. (Argentina, Japan, UK, USA)


Related information


148th session of the Executive Board Recording

Third draft Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030

IAPO Statement on Item 5 - Global Action on patient safety