Big win for patients: Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021–2030 adopted by 74th World Health Assembly

Big win for patients: Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021–2030 adopted by 74th World Health Assembly

Tuesday, 8 June 2021
We at IAPO are extremely delighted that Member States at the Seventy-fourth World Health Assembly deliberated and agreed to take concrete action to eliminate avoidable harm in health care by adopting the first ever “Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021–2030”. 

This is very exciting news as IAPO believes that Patient safety must be put first in pursuit of Universal Health Coverage as this will reassure communities to trust their healthcare systems to keep them & their families safe. 

The Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021–2030 envisions a world in which no one is harmed in health care, and every patient receives safe and respectful care, every time, everywhere by driving forward policies, strategies and actions, based on science, patient experience, system design and partnerships, to eliminate all sources of avoidable risk and harm to patients and health workers.

The 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 a culture of patient safety at all levels 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.

This outcome is a clear result of a great deal of hard work by various health partners over a long period of time as a response to the urgent need of tackling patient safety issues. IAPO commends the WHO secretariat for facilitating an inclusive consultation process in the development of the plan and for including our comments in the final version. 



Every year, millions of patients suffer injuries or die due to unsafe health care globally. 134 million adverse events occur annually in low- and middle-income countries alone, contributing to 2.6 million deaths. In high-income countries, about 1 in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care.  It is estimated that almost half of these events can be prevented.

In 2019 a WHA resolution on global action on patient safety recognized patient safety as a key global health priority, requesting WHO to consult with countries and stakeholders to formulate a global patient safety action plan.

This decision provides strategic and practical direction to countries to formulate policies and implement interventions at all levels and settings aimed at improving patient safety.


About the plan

The action plan outlines priority actions to be taken by governments, civil society, international organizations, intergovernmental organizations, WHO and, most importantly, by health care facilities across the world. WHO will work in cooperation with Member States in the development of their respective implementation plans, according to their national context.


Guiding principles

  • Engage patients and families as partners in safe care 
  •  Achieve results through collaborative working 
  • Analyse and share data to generate learning 
  • Translate evidence into actionable and measurable improvement 
  • Base policies and action on the nature of the care setting 
  • Use both scientific expertise and patient experience to improve safety
  • Instil a safety culture in the design and delivery of health care 



  • Policies to eliminate avoidable harm in health care
  • High-reliability systems.
  •  Safety of clinical processes
  •  Patient and family engagement 
  • Health worker education, skills and safety 


IAPO's next steps

As a champion of this once in a lifetime document to build back better healthcare for all patients, IAPO will be convening a multistakeholder group to further support the implementation. We will share further details shortly.


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