WHO Director-General Names Envoy for Patient Safety

July 25, 2011

According to a news release issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), WHO Director-General Margaret Chan has named Professor Sir Liam Donaldson as WHO’s Envoy for Patient Safety.  Through this role, SIR Liam is to “help the Organization promote patient safety as a global public health priority.”

Specifically, Sir Liam will mobilize political support for WHO Patient Safety with health leaders around the world and with major donors, philanthropic organizations and governments for priority activities addressing patient safety issues at national and international levels. He will also advise the WHO Director-General on strategic issues in patient safety and propose strategic actions and collaborations at global level.

The news release highlights the importance of Sir Liam’s nomination for the WHO Patient Safety Programme. The nomination signals “the importance of ensuring that patients get safe, high quality health care all around the world.”

The WHO Patient Safety Programme

The Patient Safety Programme began in 2004 as a small specialist initiative within WHO.  According to the news release, with Sir Liam’s support and intellectual leadership, it has now expanded into a “global advocacy and scientific community, with activities in over 140 counties and all six WHO regions.”

The “Patients for Patient Safety” movement was created under the WHO Patient Safety Programme, obtaining pledges from 124 countries to reduce health care-associated infections.  The programme is also credited with launching the world’s first “Safe Surgery Checklist.”

“We have come a long way in raising the world’s awareness of patient safety, but challenges still remain,” states Sir Liam. “Health care has not achieved the level of safety of many other high-risk industries. Citizens of countries around the world find it incredible that errors lead to patients getting the wrong operation or the wrong medication, sometimes with fatal consequences. Lessons need to be learned from such tragedies and action taken. The WHO Patient Safety Programme will be the cornerstone of a renewed effort globally to address these issues.”

Click here to read the full WHO News Release.

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