Quality (6) WHO Fact Sheet: Quality health services

20 April, 2021

Dear HIFA colleagues,

We are currently planning a new WHO/HIFA project on Learning for Quality Health Services, which will include three thematic discussions here on HIFA:


By way of introduction to the topic, I invite you to review the WHO Fact Sheet: Quality health services.

Extracts below. Full text here: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/quality-health-services

- Between 5.7 and 8.4 million deaths are attributed to poor quality care each year in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), which represents up to 15% of overall deaths in these countries.

- Sixty per cent of deaths in LMICs from conditions requiring health care occur due to poor quality care, whereas the remaining deaths result from non-utilization of the health system.

- Inadequate quality of care imposes costs of US$ 1.4–1.6 trillion each year in lost productivity in LMICs.

- In high-income countries, 1 in 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care, and 7 in every 100 hospitalized patients can expect to acquire a health care-associated infection.

- It has been estimated that high quality health systems could prevent 2.5 million deaths from cardiovascular disease, 900 000 deaths from tuberculosis, 1 million newborn deaths and half of all maternal deaths each year.

- Globally, the essential structures for achieving quality care are inadequate: one in 8 health care facilities has no water service, one in 5 has no sanitation service, and one in 6 has no hand hygiene facilities at the points of care.

- An estimated 1.8 billion people, or 24% of the world’s population, live in fragile contexts that are challenged in delivering quality essential health services. A large proportion of preventable maternal, childhood and neonatal deaths occur in these settings.

What is quality?

Quality of care is the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with evidence-based professional knowledge. This definition of quality of care spans promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliation, and implies that quality of care can be measured and continuously improved through the provision of evidence-based care that takes into consideration the needs and preferences of service users – patients, families and communities...

Specifically, WHO is:

- supporting countries in the development, refinement and implementation of national quality policies and strategies for an integrated approach to quality health services;

- working with partners and a network of countries to learn how to improve the quality of care for maternal, newborn and child health at scale and in a sustainable way;

- developing the technical foundations for improving quality of care in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings;

- strengthening infection prevention and control (IPC) capacity alongside efforts on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), since both are pivotal to quality health services;

- promoting patient safety initiatives to reduce harm to patients in the delivery of quality essential health services;

- spearheading the development of quality of care measurement frameworks, indicators and reporting on progress;

- supporting the sharing of lessons and experiences within and between countries through the WHO Global Learning Laboratory for Quality UHC and by fostering twinning partnerships to improve quality of care; and

- providing support to countries in their work on community engagement for quality, people-centred and resilient health services.


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org

Coordinator, WHO-HIFA Collaboration: HIFA project on Learning for Quality Health Services