WHO Appoints Patient Safety Envoy

The World Health Organization's director-general appointed Sir Liam Donaldson to the post on July 21.

Sir Liam Donaldson, who was England's chief medical officer from 1998 to 2010, has been appointed by World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan as WHO's Envoy for Patient Safety. He will help the Geneva, Switzerland-based organization promote patient safety as a global public health priority, according to WHO.

Donaldson is expected to mobilize political support for patient safety with health leaders around the world and with major donors, philanthropic organizations, and governments, advising Chan on strategic issues in patient safety.

"With this nomination, WHO is signalling the importance of ensuring that patients get safe, high quality health care all around the world," Chan said. "With the support and intellectual leadership of Sir Liam, the Patient Safety Programme has grown from a small specialist initiative within WHO to a global advocacy and scientific community, with activities in over 140 countries and all six WHO regions. It is now poised to do even more."

The program (formerly the World Alliance for Patient Safety) was established in 2004 to coordinate, facilitate, and accelerate patient safety improvements around the world. WHO thus far has obtained 124 country pledges to reduce health care-associated infections; the program's "Safe Surgery Checklist" is used by more than 1,500 hospitals.

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