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WHO Launches Patient Safety Rights Charter at Global Summit

Written by : Aishwarya Sarthe

April 22, 2024

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The Charter, a pioneering initiative, delineates patients' rights within the realm of safety, setting a significant milestone in global healthcare governance.

In a landmark move, The World Health Organization (WHO) introduced the Patient Safety Rights Charter at the recent Global Ministerial Summit on Patient Safety. 

This charter delineates patients' rights within the realm of safety, providing a framework to guide stakeholders in crafting legislation, policies, and guidelines essential for ensuring patient well-being.

Patient safety is a cornerstone principle in the pursuit of optimal healthcare delivery. Recognizing this, the Patient Safety Rights Charter sets forth ten fundamental rights crucial for mitigating risks and preventing inadvertent patient harm. 

These rights encompass various aspects, including timely, effective, and appropriate care, safe healthcare processes and practices, qualified and competent staff, and patient and family engagement.

Sharing thoughts, Dr Rudi Eggers, director, Integrated Health Services, WHO, said, "Assuring patient safety is a global priority, and a critical component needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals."

Inclusive Rights Framework

The Charter encompasses ten essential patient safety rights to mitigate risks and prevent inadvertent harm. These rights include the right to timely, effective, and appropriate care, the right to safe healthcare processes and practices, and the right to qualified and competent staff. 

Dr Neelam Dhingra, head, Patient Safety Flagship Unit at WHO, emphasized, "Everyone, everywhere, has the right to safety as a patient."

Patient safety remains a critical concern globally, with statistics indicating that one in every ten patients experiences harm in healthcare, half of which is preventable. 

The Charter further aims to tackle challenges compromising patient safety, such as avoidable errors in surgical procedures, medication errors, and misdiagnosis.

Need for Patient Safety to be a Global Priority

Improving patient safety is identified as a global priority by the World Health Assembly, with the Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030 outlining strategic initiatives. 

Furthermore, the Charter aligns with these efforts, providing a framework for systemic and systematic action to enhance patient safety across healthcare settings.

Additionally, the Patient Safety Rights Charter launch heralds a significant step towards building patient-centered healthcare systems. It empowers patients to advocate for themselves and facilitates collaboration between patients, families, caregivers, and healthcare systems to ensure access to high-quality, safe healthcare services.

Towards Safer Healthcare Systems

In addition to the Patient Safety Rights Charter, WHO introduced the CoViNet initiative aimed at enhancing global capabilities for detecting, monitoring, and assessing coronaviruses. 

Comprising 36 laboratories from 21 countries, CoViNet underscores the One Health approach, recognizing the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health in addressing emerging infectious diseases.

In another recent development, WHO unveiled new recommendations on utilizing targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) tests to diagnose drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) in its latest edition of the Consolidated Guidelines on Tuberculosis.

This latest module, Module 3: Diagnosis, focuses on rapid diagnostics for tuberculosis detection and offers a fresh perspective on the swift identification of drug resistance using state-of-the-art technologies.

The launch of the Patient Safety Rights Charter marks a significant milestone in global healthcare, reaffirming the commitment to ensure safe and equitable healthcare for all. 


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