New WHO Centre of Excellence for Quality of Care and Patient Safety opens in Athens


Russian Nurses Association

WHO/Europe and the Hellenic Republic of Greece today open a new sub-office in the country focusing 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 (SDGs).

Speaking at its opening, WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri P. 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.”

Ensuring more people enjoy better health and well-being is central to WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work (GPW 13) and the European Programme of Work 2020–2025 – “United Action for Better Health in Europe”.

A centre of excellence

Supporting Member States to build stronger health systems, and improving health care for citizens in the process, is central to the work of WHO/Europe. Serving as a centre of excellence with the support of the Greek Government, the Athens sub-office will work on the following major areas:

  • providing country support, including for national strategies and frameworks;
  • sharing best practices to scale up successful interventions;
  • synthesizing innovations and knowledge in quality of care and patient safety;
  • analysing policies focused on quality of care and patient safety; and
  • building networks and alliances and improving stakeholder engagement.

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.

Rebuilding from the pandemic

It is estimated that millions of people die each year in the Region as a result of inadequate care. This can be due to a range of reasons, such as inaccurate diagnoses, errors in medication or inadequately equipped clinics. These shortfalls in care are not necessarily the fault of individuals – often they are structural. From top to bottom, quality care and patient safety is central to creating robust health systems, which has taken on greater urgency since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The pandemic has highlighted, and in many cases compounded, existing inequities in health. But it has also shown the importance of ensuring equitable access to health care for societies and economies. The new sub-office, opened with the support of the Greek Government, seeks to rebuild based on this shared understanding and need for change.

Significant experience in Greece

The sub-office based in Athens will bring WHO closer to the citizens of the south-eastern and Mediterranean countries of the Region. Furthermore, Greece recently spearheaded important developments in the field of health, notably by banning smoking in public places.

In addition, the country has significant experience in reforming health systems, including through the establishment of its National Agency of Quality Assurance. Greece has outstanding health institutions and top-class researchers – all important parts of making this new office a success.

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