Home | WHPA Press Releases | Health Professionals Call for Priority on Patient Safety

World Medical Association [WMA]
International Council of Nurses (ICN)
International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)


World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA)

Health Professionals Call for Priority on Patient Safety

Inadequate human resources present a serious threat to
patient safety and quality of care.


Geneva, 29 April 2002 - Addressing the very critical issues of patient safety and adverse medical events, the WHPA (World Health Professions Alliance) is calling for increased attention to patient safety, in and out of the hospital.  "Patient safety is a pressing health care challenge worldwide", declared Ton Hoek, General Secretary of the FIP.   "Sufficient investment in the recruitment, training, retention and involvement in health policy of health care professionals is a key strategy in quality and safety of care everywhere."

"While we support measures to improve health systems performance and reduce cost, we believe that cost-saving measures should not threaten quality and safety of health care," explained Judith Oulton, Chief Executive Officer of the International Council of Nurses. "We are concerned with the current global shortage of health professionals, the dilution of skilled workforce with less qualified personnel, and reduction in overall staffing levels."

 "There is growing evidence that inadequate institutional staffing levels are correlated with increase in adverse events such as patient falls, bed sores, medication errors, nosocomial infections and readmission rates that can lead to longer hospital stays and increased hospital mortality rates," said Delon Human, Secretary-General and CEO of the World Medical Association.  "In short, inadequate human resources present a serious threat to patient safety and quality of care."

WHPA urges the WHO, governments and others to examine ways and means of attracting and retaining properly qualified health workers through such efforts as appropriate remuneration and working conditions, providing support services, economic and social incentives, peer review and professional development. The role of health professions' associations such as national nursing, medical and pharmacy associations in improving quality and safety of care is worthy of continued support. Health profession associations can mobilise millions of their members in improving quality and safety of patient care.

WHPA has developed a fact sheet on patient safety (attached) for wide dissemination to the public, health professionals, governments and health related organisations. For further information from WHPA please consult the WHPA Web site at www.whpa.org.




The World Health Professions Alliance brings together medicine, nursing and pharmacy through their representative international organisations, International Council of Nurses (ICN), International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and the World Medical Association (WMA) and represents more than 20 million health professionals worldwide.


  • The International Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of 125 national nurses' associations representing the millions of nurses worldwide.  Operated by nurses for nurses since 1899, ICN is the international voice of nursing and works to ensure quality care for all and sound health policies globally.

  • The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) is the worldwide federation of national associations of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. Pharmacists are health care professionals dedicated to improving access to and value of appropriate medicine use worldwide.   

  • The World Medical Association (WMA) is a global federation of national medical associations, representing the millions of physicians worldwide.  Acting on behalf of physicians and patients, the WMA endeavours to achieve the highest possible standards of medical science, education, ethics and health care for all people.


For further information contact Linda Carrier-Walker Tel :  +41 22  908 0100;
fax :   +41 22  908 0101;  email:  ; Web site  www.icn.ch 

PR/02 #07


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