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By Bruno Lucet, ISQua Board Member Friday. Jun 7, 2019

Update from the seventy-second session of the World Health Assembly (20 - 28 May 2019) Featured

The seventy-second session of the World Health Assembly took place in Geneva from 20th to 28th May 2019.


Many public health topics were on the agenda of this assembly and, according to the closing remarks of Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s Director-General, the most outstanding achievements of this assembly are the following :


  • The agreement of a common approach to antimicrobial resistance
  • The adoption of a new global strategy on health, environment and climate change
  • The adoption of the11th Edition of the International Classification of Diseases
  • The recognition of patient safety as a global health priority.
  • The commitment to invest in safe water, sanitation and hygiene services in health facilities.
  • The adoption of a landmark agreement to enhance the transparency of pricing for medicines, vaccines and other health products.
  • The commitment to invest in strong primary health care, to implement WHO guidelines on community health workers, and to lay the groundwork for the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage.


Specifically about the recognition of patient safety as a global health priority, the World Health Assembly endorses the  establishment  of  World  Patient  Safety  Day,  to  be  marked  annually  on  17 September in order to increase public awareness and engagement, enhance global understanding, and work towards global solidarity and action by Member States to promote patient safety.


And urges Member States :


  • to recognize patient safety as a health priority in health sector policies and programmes, making it an essential component for strengthening health care systems in order to achieve universal health coverage;
  • to assess and measure the nature and magnitude of the problem of patient safety including risks, errors, adverse events and patient harm at all levels of health service delivery including through reporting, learning and feedback systems that incorporate the perspectives of patients and their families, and to take preventive action and implement systematic measures to reduce risks to all individuals;
  • to develop and implement national policies, legislation, strategies, guidance and tools and deploy adequate resources, in order to strengthen the safety of all health services, as appropriate;
  • to work in collaboration with other Member States, civil society organizations, patients’ organizations, professional bodies, academic and research institutions, industry and other relevant stakeholders to promote, prioritize and embed patient safety in all health policies and strategies;
  • to share and disseminate best practices and encourage mutual learning to reduce patient harm through regional and international collaboration;
  • to integrate and implement patient safety strategies in all clinical programmes and risk areas, as appropriate, to prevent avoidable harm to patients related to health care procedures, products and devices, for example, medication safety, surgical safety, infection control, sepsis management, diagnostic safety, environmental hygiene and infrastructure, injection safety, blood safety and radiation safety, as well as to minimize the risk of inaccurate or late diagnosis and treatment, and to pay special attention to at-risk groups;
  • to promote a safety culture by providing basic training to all health professionals, developing a blame-free patient safety incident reporting culture through open and transparent systems that identify and learn from examining causative and contributing factors of harm, addressing human factors, and building leadership and management capacity and efficient multidisciplinary teams, in order to increase awareness and ownership, improve outcomes for patients and reduce the costs related to adverse events at all levels of health systems;
  • to build sustainable human resource capacity, through multisectoral and interprofessional competency-based education and training based on the WHO patient safety curricula and continuous professional development to promote a multidisciplinary approach, and to build an appropriate working environment that optimizes the delivery of safe health services;
  • to promote research, including translational research, to support the provision of safer health services and long-term care;
  • to promote the use of new technologies, including digital technologies, for health, including to build and scale up health information systems and to support data collection for surveillance and reporting of risks, adverse events and other indicators of harm at different levels of health services and health-related social care, while ensuring the protection of personal data, and to support the use of digital solutions to provide safer health care;
  • to consider the use of traditional and complementary medicine, as appropriate, in the provision of safer health care;
  • to put in place systems for the engagement and empowerment of patients’ families and communities (especially those who have been affected by adverse events) in the delivery of safer health care, including capacity-building initiatives, networks and associations, and to work with them and civil society, to use their experience of safe and unsafe care positively in order to build safety and harm-minimization strategies, as well as compensation mechanisms and schemes, into all aspects of the provision of health care, as appropriate;
  • to mark World Patient Safety Day annually on 17 September to promote all aspects of patient safety including progress towards reaching national milestones, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders;
  • to consider participating in the annual Global Ministerial Summits on Patient Safety;


I represented ISQua at this WHA72 meeting and had the opportunity to make a statement to support Global Action on Patient Safety : “…ISQua supports the WHO affirmation of global action on Patient Safety by improving systems, measuring and learning, educating for safety and developing a worldwide social movement for Zero Harm. “


The full statement can be viewed in our resources under ISQua Statement – Global Action on Patient Safety – World Health Assembly, Switzerland May 2019


A recording of the meeting has also been made available on the WHO Website -


To view the reading of the ISQua Statement please go to the 'Tenth meeting of Committee A (25/05/2019) | Item 12.5 - Patient Safety - Global action on Patient Safety | Minute 1:32:00'


WHA May 2019 Bruno Lucet



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