Skip to main content

WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge – Medication without harm

In March 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the third Global Patient Safety Challenge with the theme of medication without harm. In April 2020, the Commission published Australia's response, highlighting Australia's goal to reduce medication errors, adverse drug events and medication-related harm. 

Australia's response

The Commission has developed Medication without harm WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: Australia's response.

In Australia, the goal is to reduce medication errors, adverse drug events and medication-related hospital admissions by 50% by 2025. The response examines existing programs that address the three WHO flagship areas, noting that the scope of the challenge has been refined to align with the Australian context:

  • Monitoring polypharmacy and responding to inappropriate polypharmacy
  • Reducing harm from high-risk medicines, with focus on insulin, opioid analgesics, anticoagulants and antipsychotics
  • Improving medication safety at transitions of care with focus on a shared medicines list.


To assist the Commission in developing a response to the challenge, a draft response was made available for public consultation in 2019. The Commission sought input from stakeholders with programs that address high-risk medicines, inappropriate polypharmacy, and transitions of care.

The discussion paper that was developed for this consultation is available below.


The goal of the challenge is to gain worldwide commitment and action to reduce severe, avoidable medication-related harm by 50% over the five years to 2024. The Australian Government made a commitment to participate in the challenge, and the Commission was tasked with developing a national response.

The three focus areas of the challenge are reducing harm from high-risk medicines, polypharmacy and transitions of care. The high-risk medicines chosen are anti-psychotics, insulin, opioids, heparin and anti-coagulants. More information on the focus areas can be found in the booklet from the WHO, Medication without harm 2017. To download the document visit:

Back to top