New WHO office on quality of care and patient safety opens in Athens

WHO/Europe and the Greek government opened the WHO Centre of Excellence for Quality of Care and Patient Safety in Athens on Thursday that will focus on quality of care and patient safety.

Acting as a centre of excellence, the sub-office will work towards achieving the highest level of well-being, health and health protection in the WHO European Region, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, the organization said in a statement. It will also help towards equal access to health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at its opening, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Henri Kluge said, “Better quality of care relies on a strong primary health care system, where most preventive activities, diagnostics, consultations and treatments occur. Let us make no mistake – the quality of care encompasses all levels of a health system, hence the need to integrate quality policies across the board.”

Greece, he said, was chosen for several reasons, including the fact that it took initiatives such as banning smoking in public spaces; it has significant experience in reforming health systems; it has shown resilience in the onslaught of the pandemic; and it has outstanding health institutions and researchers. All of these factors are critical to the new center’s success, he noted.

Through this hub of expertise, health authorities across the Region will be able to deliver more effective health care with stronger clinical practice, empowered patients and communities, continually improving programmes and methods and, ultimately, higher overall standards of care.

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias called the office a first in the history of WHO to be dedicated to the quality of care and patient safety for all of Europe, with services also available to all Mediterranean countries and SE European countries. The office will serve as a technical consultant for Greece’s efforts to reform the National Health System also, he noted.

The coronavirus pandemic “has taught us three things – that health is above all, that solidarity is valuable and division dangerous, and that we must all invest in human resources together,” he added.