‘Govt must not focus on expanding health facilities, quality counts’

Ghana’s focus on expanding access to health facilities alone will not lead to improved disease and healthcare burden unless the question of access to quality is answered, the Country Director of SafeCare, a Healthcare Quality Im­provement Programme by Pharm­access, Ms Bonifacia Benefo Agyei, has disclosed.

She explained that although ac­cess to healthcare service was a chal­lenge, the government and relevant stakeholders must work to address relentlessly, low quality care at the facilities seriously compromised the efforts put in to ensure access.

“If the patient or the communi­ty’s trust in healthcare quality is low, it leads to low patronage.

“Our nation’s healthcare system will be no close to the attainment of Universal Health Coverage unless we turn our attention to ensuring that health facilities implement quality improvement programmes,” she emphasised.

Ms Agyei disclosed this during a media interaction in Accra yesterday.

She noted that in ensuring standard care at the health facilities, objective measurement was key and SafeCare offered standards and methodology for objective assess­ment and rating and support for stepwise improvement.

However, she said she was pleased that since the introduction of the SafeCare programme, quality improvement in healthcare was gradually receiving attention among healthcare providers and health administrators in Ghana.

“SafeCare has a specific goal of supporting healthcare providers in emerging markets or LMIC toward achieving global standards of quality and patient safety, most impor­tantly, without compromise,” she observed.

The SafeCare quality standards she explained were divided into 13 different categories (Service Element), covering the full range of medical/ clinical to non-medical (management and administrative) aspects of care and ranging from small health posts to large (primary & secondary) hospitals.

The Standards she said were accredited by the International Society for Quality in Health Care External Evaluation Association (ISQuaEEA).

Furthermore, she explained that the 13 service elements comprised 170 sub-categorisations (standards) with each standard having four crite­ria to measure the quality perfor­mance of healthcare facilities.

Ms Agyei said the overall Safe­Care programme was designed to help develop and improve the capacities of healthcare profes­sionals through the assessors’ and facilitators’ training, onsite facility training, the assessment process, and progressive digitally supported quality facilitation.

She indicated that the programme afforded selected healthcare profes­sionals to be trained and mentored to be internationally certified asses­sors and improvement facilitators.

“For more than 10 years, Safe­Care has supported governments, healthcare provider networks, organisations, and individual health­care facilities to institutionalise quality improvement in healthcare systems in countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Ghana,” Ms Agyei said.

She noted that as the facility im­proved its performance against the SafeCare standards, it progressed to the next certificate of improvement, providing a transparent, positive, and motivational rating system that recognizes each stage of the improvement journey.

Ms. Agyei revealed that over 3000 public and private health facilities in six countries in Africa had been as­sessed using the SafeCare standards

“Eighty per cent of the facili­ties improved in quality and 914 healthcare professionals of various specialities have been trained as cer­tified assessors and quality improve­ment facilitators,” she said.

“In Tanzania, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) has adopted the Safe­Care standards as the basis for step­wise certification and development of the regional referral hospitals assessment tool,” she added.

In Nigeria, she said SafeCare was cooperating with the Ministry of Health of State to implement the SafeCare methodology in the public sector.

Similarly, in Ghana, she stated, SafeCare supported the develop­ment of the NHIA credentialling tools, and HeFRA’s inspection tools for licensing, adding, that SafeCare Ghana office works with over 600 healthcare facilities and has per­formed 1117 SafeCare assessments.

SafeCare Ghana partners with the Christian Health Association of Ghana, Marie Stopes International Ghana, and Africa Health Holdings (Manager of the Rabito Clinic brand in Ghana) in using the standards and methodology to rate, improve, and benchmark the healthcare facili­ties with their networks

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