WHO 3rd Global Patient Safety Challenge launched at the Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety in Bonn

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Dr. Matthia Wienold, our Treasurer, and Trustee attended the high profile 2nd Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety in Bonn in March 2017 and reports back on the launch of the 3rd Global Patients Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm. IAPO and its members will support this campaign over the coming years.

Health Ministers from 40 countries met at the 2nd Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety in Bonn Germany 29-30 March 2017 to commit to the progress of patient’s safety.  Invited by the German Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe, Ministers were alarmed by disturbing evidence about the dangers of uncontrolled health systems. They learnt that evaluation and monitoring are not enough to reach better health service quality and to yield better outcomes from health care investments.

The Role of Patients

Cultural change, yes, contributes a lot. Convincingly, physicians and other staff, patients and families can create an environment, where patients experience smaller chances of harm. However, in order to make improvements “stick” in the minds of all people holding responsibility for the health of others, continuous and sustainable actions are needed. The Sustainable Development Goal of Universal Health Coverage - so the general trend of the experts and ministers present - must be seen as a way towards improving patient safety. Without efforts in patient safety, health-related harm will remain a leading cause of patient mortality and a heavy burden on health.

The role of patients and families was much related to. Patients at the core of developments must become the focus not only of individual attention. The safety of patients and families must be the eventual measure and defining outcome of patient safety - was one of the recommendations given by experts. Jeremy Hunt, the UK Health Minister, added similar arguments in his key presentation. Where staffing requirements are to be measured, rising numbers must also be followed by improvements in quality of the services to be provided. And the patients’ outcomes must be the end to the means.

Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, spoke from her heart and moved the assembly by identifying herself as a family member of those harmed by medicine. Her brother died from a hospital acquired infection - a fate she wants nobody else to meet. She committed herself to take on a leadership role in patient safety after her retirement from the WHO office. Madame Chan is sure set to become a staunch advocate for heads of states and of national governments to follow the advice of their health ministers much more closely.

Leadership was the buzz word. A leadership to be followed not only by regulation and sanctions. Leadership was recommended in areas, where it was not supposed to be expected: leadership through communities, community health service provision and public education. Regina Kamoga, among many presenters from Low and Middle Income Countries demonstrated that big strides could be made in improving the growth of safer environments in resource poor or very resource restricted settings. More prominently, they were able to show, how much of an opportunity for national pride lies in making improvements in health care systems. Especially, if the safety culture could become primarily embedded, where new methods and technologies are rolled out by governments and enabled by expanding access to health care. Speakers confirmed and presented, how leadership in patient safety is a lively, colourful and engaging matter of great attraction to all sectors of society - and across cultures.

Sir Liam Donaldson, Special Envoy for Patient Safety, challenged ministers to further move ahead. The common denominator was that there was no way back once you entered the safer grounds. Warnings could, however, be heard about health systems falling foul and investments being wasted. A daily, repeated and watchful routine must be implemented at the highest levels of public responsibility.

At the Summit, WHO launched the 3rd Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm and WHO Resource Materials of Patient Safety and Quality of Care . The safety of medicines (pills, injections, infusions etc.) and medication (e.g. compliance with the complex drug regimen, health literacy) are now at the focus of international attention. Sir Liam Donaldson included Safe Online Pharmacies in his presentation to ministers and experts invited. This 3rd Global Patient Safety Challenge brings together not only concerns of high, middle and low income countries. It unites concerns about the spread of antibiotic resistance with the difficulties of finding adequate treatment and safer care (e.g. for sepsis).

Abstracts of presentations of the meeting can be downloaded online  Abstracts