OPINION

WHO’s new Athens office spearheading quality care

who-s-new-athens-office-spearheading-quality-care

An estimated 8 million lives are lost globally each year due to poor quality healthcare. The current Covid-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated that quality assurance and patient safety are severely challenged today more than ever.

The World Health Organization’s new office in Athens has been established to address this. It is the culmination of a long-standing, multilevel cooperation between the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Greek Ministry of Health.

We are not talking about a new room which will be filled with some chairs, a table and two laptops, nor about an additional bureaucratic structure in decision making.

This latest development – the Athens Quality of Care and Patient Safety Office – will provide services and expertise across all European Mediterranean basin countries, as well as in the countries of Southeastern Europe.

The office will work with governments, policy-makers, health system leaders, patients and clinicians, supporting them to develop a strong health workforce, build excellence across all healthcare facilities, ensure the safe and effective use of medicines and other technologies, make sure that health information systems are used appropriately, and secure financing that supports continuous quality improvement.

The new office reflects WHO’s commitment to building a fairer and healthier world. It acknowledges Greece’s resilience to the current health challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and recent significant national initiatives around quality of care.

And it is a “medal of recognition” to the country for promoting necessary reforms, such as the successful implementation of the anti-smoking law, and the experience gained in the field of quality of care and patient safety thanks to the establishment of the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Health (ΟDIPY).

The new office will contribute to WHO’s mission to ensure a healthy life and well-being for all in the European region and deliver on the ambitious European Program of Work (2020-25) that was endorsed by countries across the region last year.

Greece enjoys close and direct cooperation with the World Health Organization, and will be able to tap into its knowledge and experience, providing significant technical assistance for the training, promotion and implementation of innovative changes in the National Health System.

In the last 15 months, our societies have been facing the greatest challenge in modern history. An unprecedented pandemic that has shaken our way of life.

Despite a heavy toll, we have are surviving the storm, and as we move forward must learn to dance in the rain.

Improving the quality of healthcare is a condition upon which the well-being and prosperity of the next generations depend.

It is our duty to leave no one behind.


Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge is WHO’s regional director for Europe and Dr Vassilis Kikilias is the health minister of Greece.