Patient safety

About us


In October 2004 WHO launched a patient safety programme in response to a World Health Assembly Resolution (2002) urging WHO and Member States to pay the closest possible attention to the problem of patient safety. Its establishment underlined the importance of patient safety as a global health-care issue.

The programme, WHO Patient Safety, aims to coordinate, disseminate and accelerate improvements in patient safety worldwide. It also provides a vehicle for international collaboration and action between WHO Member States, WHO’s Secretariat, technical experts, and consumers, as well as professionals and industry groups. Each year, WHO Patient Safety delivers a number of programmes covering systemic and technical aspects to improve patient safety around the world.


What is patient safety?

Patient safety is the absence of preventable harm to a patient during the process of health care. The discipline of patient safety is the coordinated efforts to prevent harm, caused by the process of health care itself, from occurring to patients. Over the past ten years, patient safety has been increasingly recognized as an issue of global importance, but much work remains to be done.

Who we are

WHO Patient Safety was created to facilitate the development of patient safety policy and practice across all WHO Member States and to act as a major force for patient safety improvement across the world.

Our vision

Every patient receives safe health care, every time, everywhere.

Our mission

The mission of WHO Patient Safety is to coordinate, facilitate and accelerate patient safety improvements around the world by:

  • being a leader and advocating for change;
  • generating and sharing knowledge and expertise;
  • supporting Member States in their implementation of patient safety actions.

WHO Patient Safety

Our action areas

Secretariat staff

Programme Leads & Collaborators

Our external expert leads

International Organizations

National Organizations

About us

Sir Liam Donaldson, WHO Envoy for Patient Safety

Patient safety fact file