Celebrating World Patient Safety Day 2021

World Patient Safety Day was established in 2019 to enhance global understanding of patient safety, increase public engagement in health care, promote global actions to improve patient safety and reduce risks. For World Patient Safety Day 2021, 17 September, WHO urges all to “Act now for safe and respectful childbirth!” with the theme “Safe maternal and newborn care”. This year the disruption of essential health services worldwide caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes the World Patient Safety Day celebration even more significant.

The main objectives of World Patient Safety Day 2021 are:

To raise global awareness on the issues of maternal and newborn safety, particularly during childbirth.
To engage multiple stakeholders and adopt effective and innovative strategies to improve maternal and newborn safety.
To call for urgent and sustainable actions by all stakeholders to scale up efforts, reach the unreached and ensure safe maternal and newborn care, particularly during childbirth.
To advocate the adoption of best practices at the point of care to prevent avoidable risks and harm to all women and newborns during childbirth.

WHO calls upon all stakeholders (governments, nongovernmental organisations, professional organisations, civil society, patient organisations, academia and research institutes) to join this global campaign by lighting up iconic monuments in orange, and organising international, national and local activities and events on and around 17 September 2021.

The Role of Family Doctors and Patient Safety

Primary Care and Family Medicine are immersed in every life event, including pregnancy, childbirth and healthcare of new mothers and newborns, including the postpartum period. At the same time, Family Doctors cooperate on perinatal healthcare, which refers to healthcare from 22 completed weeks of gestation until seven completed days after birth. They are also often responsible for the newborn health follow up, at least for the first month of a baby's life.

A healthy start during the perinatal period has a crucial influence on infancy, childhood, and adulthood. Therefore, Family Doctors have an essential role in safer maternal, perinatal and newborn health.

Women and newborns are exposed to significant risks due to unsafe care. Every day, approximately 810 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, about 2 million babies are stillborn every year, with over 40% occurring during labour. Most stillbirths and maternal and newborn deaths are avoidable by providing safe and quality care by skilled health professionals working in supportive environments. This can only be achieved by engaging policymakers, stakeholders, health workers and adopting comprehensive health systems and community-based approaches.

During the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA), celebrated in May 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland, the WHO accepted a resolution to ensure that every woman, child, and adolescent worldwide are able to survive and thrive by transforming care by 2030. This resolution calls for investments in the health and development of future generations to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through universal health coverage (UHC).

WONCA Working Parties on Women’ Health and Quality and Safety in Family Medicine invite the WONCA Family Doctors community to join this campaign to light up in orange their own practices and organising community activities to promote safer maternal and newborn healthcare.

Dr María Pilar Astier Peña, Chair of the Working Party on Quality & Safety
Dr José Miguel Bueno Ortiz, Secretary of the Working Party on Quality & Safety

Patient satisfaction and patient safety – some reflections
Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030
XIII Conference on Patient Safety in Primary Care
Discover "Safe and Sound", a blog for Patient Safety Awareness