Poor care in hospitals, the aim of quality standards and an overview of external evaluation methods continue to remain critical areas that are being addressed by both the public and private hospital sectors in Africa.
In comparison to the rest of the world, Africa is at the start of an exciting journey into the field of external and internal quality assurance which will lead to higher standards of quality and safety in health service provision.
Both the public and private sectors in Africa have realised the growing need for improvement of accreditation and quality standards, so as to ensure a reduction in the compounding healthcare challenges that the industry faces.
Looking at public hospitals specifically, some of the problems in the public sector include poor planning and leadership for equity, budgets and staffing being inadequate in relation to workload, poor staff support, weak development, as well as a lack of supervision and monitoring. Another major problem is poor provisioning systems with infrastructure being not fit for purpose and not well maintained.
Equipment in public hospitals is frequently not maintained, replaced nor procured according to formal policies and procedures. In addition, medicines and other supplies at all levels frequently have poor delivery systems and stock management systems.
In order to address these issues, as well as somewhat similar but less intense issues faced within some sectors of the private sector, the Quality Conference at Africa Health will spend some time focusing on quality measurement tools and methodologies, the process of supporting safety standards, updates of external evaluation programs in the region and best practices in quality improvement programmes.
The keynote address at the event will set the scene by examining the approach to external evaluation taken by South Africa. Professor Lizo Mazwai, Chair of the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) will speak on the potential impact of the OHSC on quality and safety of healthcare establishments in South Africa and the National Health Insurance (NHI) Plan.
Using the South Africa market as an example of these quality improvement programmes, Prof Whittaker explains that the country realised the need for quality standards in public and private hospitals in South Africa. As a result, the country embarked on a regulatory approach to address problems in healthcare establishments and is implementing an Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) with a mandate to set national core standards for healthcare establishments, as well as inspect and evaluate their performance using these standards.
OHSC will be the future link to funding of healthcare establishments through the National Health Insurance Plan for Universal Healthcare Coverage. Some of the discussions that will be taking place at the Quality Conference include; the situations when things go wrong in hospitals and their legal implications, the serious problem of antibiotic resistance and the impact of a national antibiotic stewardship programme, the importance of sedation services in medicine, surgery and dentistry and its impact on patient care and its cost, the role of nursing in hospitals from an international perspective, the role of the role of the Hospital Association of South Africa, the development and implementation of national core standards and their impact, as well as an update on internationally accredited accreditation activities in Africa.
Africa Health, which aims to provide African medical professionals with the insights and updates on the latest developments and technologies within the medical field, is set to take place for the 5th time from 5th-7th May 2015 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Professor Stuart Whittaker, former CEO of the Council for Health Service Accreditation Southern Africa