Improving African healthcare


A day after unveiling Rwanda's first ever magnetic resonance imaging machine, King Faisal Hospital in Kigali, received the results of the final survey for an international accreditation program, with the hospital scoring a record high of 98 % from the surveyors from the Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA). To be fully accredited, a hospital has to score 90 % or more in every service element. COHSASA carries out internal and external assessments using international standards.

The quality improvement and accreditation process started in June 2008 after the Ministry of Health approved a strategic plan to turn the hospital into a world-class centre of excellence. The first assessment was conducted in February, where the hospital scored 86%. In November, the COHSASA surveyors went through all documents and evidence of the clinical and non clinical services at the hospital and were impressed by the major achievements realized by the hospital in only 9 months since their last survey in February 2010. Services provided by the hospital were evaluated for performance including management and leadership; access to care; management of information; prevention and control of infections; health and safety; quality management; and patient and family rights.

With this accreditation program, KFH- Kigali is the first hospital in Africa with the exception of South Africa government supported hospitals to attain this level of accreditation in a period of two years. KFH Kigali is also the first hospital in the region to get accredited. Founded in 1991, the hospital is Rwanda's premium referral hospital and has 145 beds. It operates as an acute care facility with full-time specialists in most major fields.

Juliet Mbabazi of King Faisal Hospital Kigali says, "The accreditation will enable the hospital to stimulate integration and management of health services and provide better education and consultation to its patients. KFH has benefited from the accreditation process in the sense that is definitely helping the hospital improve the standards of care and accountability to our patients in our quest for excellence."

There are only 17 healthcare accrediting bodies in the world that are recognised by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), the global authority that accredits the accreditors and the standards they produce and South Africa is represented among them. The Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA) in Cape Town has been operating as a not-for-profit enterprise in the field of quality improvement and accreditation in Southern Africa for the past 15 years and has conducted 683 external surveys in 437 facilities in private and public sectors with 104 of these currently accredited, including hospitals, clinics, hospices, rehabilitation centres, sub-acute care facilities and environmental health offices. Recently, four sets of healthcare standards developed by COHSASA have been accredited by ISQua as meeting principles set out by the international body. This is the third successive occasion that COHSASA has had its standards accredited and over the past decade and a half COHSASA has continuously refined and reviewed its standards to make them user-friendly, precise, easy to measure and easy to understand.

As well as South African hospitals, COHSASA now offers an international accreditation service for Botswana, Rwanda, Swaziland, Nigeria and Lesotho. While only 6 hospitals and clinics are currently accredited, 48 more are in the process.

In South Africa, the government is to establish an ombudsman-type office to deal with complaints of poor service provision by both public and private hospitals, in a move to improve the provision of quality health care in the country. Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi said the office of the health ombudsman will consist of an inspectorate to conduct regular and unannounced examinations of conditions at private and public hospitals and oversee the accreditation of such facilities, “ No health facility in this country will be under the national health insurance scheme unless it gets accreditation from this office of standards compliance. In other words if you are not accredited by the office, no NHI for that facility. Any member of the public who has a complaint about a broad range of things, like having been to hospital and been ignored for four hours, queuing for a long time, wrong attitude of staff, they can go to the office. The powers of sanction of the ombudsman will be dealt with during the processing of the national health amendment bill, which proposes the establishment of the office of the health standards compliance.’



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