Tánaiste pledges Ireland’s support for the Global Patient Safety Challenge

2 December 2005

Mary Harney TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children today (Friday, 2nd December 2005) reaffirmed her commitment to enhancing the safety of patients by signing up to the Global Patient Safety Challenge with Sir Liam Donaldson, Chair of the World Alliance for Patient Safety and Chief Medical Officer for England.

The Global Patient Safety Challenge is a major initiative, undertaken by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which aims to address significant aspects of risk to patients receiving healthcare. The theme of the Challenge for the period 2005-2006 is “Clean Care is Safer Care” with a particular emphasis on hand hygiene.

At the invitation of the WHO, the Tánaiste has formally pledged Ireland’s support to implement actions to reduce hospital acquired infection and to share results and learning internationally. In signing up to the Challenge, the Tánaiste acknowledged the need for health professional bodies and associations to promote the highest standards of practice and behaviour in order to reduce the risk.

The Tánaiste commented: “Poor hygiene standards puts lives in danger. We all need to play our part to dramatically improve hygiene standards in hospitals. In October we published the hygiene audit. We have taken the first step. We have the benchmark. Improvement requires buy in from everybody - hospital staff in all areas and visitors. Our goal is clean hands, clean practices, clean products, clean environment and clean equipment. This is an attainable goal and will be a priority for the health services.”

Sir Liam Donaldson, acting in his capacity as Chair of the World Alliance for Patient Safety congratulated the Tánaiste on signing up to the Challenge on behalf of Ireland. He commented “The Global Patient Safety Challenge is a core element of the Alliance’s work. The support of the Tánaiste and Ireland is an important contribution to the promotion of the message contained in the Challenge.”

Note to Editors: WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge

Health care-associated infection is a major issue in patient safety as it affects millions of people worldwide and complicates the delivery of patient care. Infections contribute to patient deaths and disability, promote resistance to antibiotics and generate additional expenditure to those already incurred by the patients' underlying disease.

To fight the spread of health care-associated infections which take a high toll in human lives and affect hundreds of millions of patients worldwide each year, WHO and its partners launched the Global Patient Safety Challenge with the theme “Clean Care is Safer Care” on Thursday 13th October 2005. As part of the launch the WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care (Advanced Draft) were made available.

The aim of the launch was to strengthen the commitment of interested Member States to the Global Patient Safety Challenge and the critical role of hand hygiene in controlling the spread of health care-associated infection and multiresistant pathogens.

The implementation of the Global Patient Safety Challenge comprises three major strategies:

As part of the implementation strategies, WHO Member States have been invited to make a formal statement pledging their support to implement actions to reduce health care-associated infection within their country and to share results and learning internationally.

The pledge is a clear statement by the minister of health of a country interested in addressing health care-associated infection.