Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 21st November 2023: The Aga Khan Outreach Health Centres (OHCs) in Tanzania, in partnership with PharmAccess since 2019, continue to effectively implement robust quality standards with the goal of consistently improving quality and patient safety in existing healthcare practices for a safer future. PharmAccess, an international non-governmental organization (NGO), focuses on initiatives that enhance access to high-quality healthcare, aligning with the global push for Universal Health Coverage (UHC). In 2019, a joint initiative between Aga Khan Health Service, Tanzania and PharmAccess commenced, with the main objectives of
i) empowering healthcare providers by supporting them with measuring, monitoring and improving their services,
ii) harnessing private and public resources, and
iii) providing remote communities with various options to pay for care.
The SafeCare quality programme encompasses 13 fundamental components. These include Management and Leadership, Human Resource Management, Information Management, Risk Management, Facility Management, Diagnostic and Imaging Services, Patient and Family Engagement, Access to Care, Laboratory Services, Medication Management, Primary Health Care Services, and Support Services. Each year, a newly established health centre is required to undergo a SafeCare assessment. Additionally, existing health centres at all levels must undergo SafeCare recertification every two years.
The introduction of the SafeCare programme produced favourable outcomes and gained broad backing from diverse stakeholders. Regular audits consistently demonstrate an upward trajectory in standards and practices at all levels. This is underscored by the programme’s substantial and positive influence on healthcare practices, the overall quality of healthcare services delivery, behaviour change among healthcare workers, and patient safety and experience.
The SafeCare programme has a robust leadership and efficient management component, which encourages leaders to formulate explicit strategies that align with the vision of enhancing healthcare services. Training for non-clinical staff places a particular emphasis on the overall patient experience and their feedback. These evaluations have fostered a more efficient, transparent, and collaborative working environment accompanied by thorough documentation of practices.
Over the past 4 years, this partnership has led to significant achievements. Notably, 19 out of the 27 Outreach Health Centres have reached Level 5, which is SafeCare’s internationally recognized gold stamp for excellence in quality healthcare, signifying the highest possible level of compliance with the established standards. This accomplishment marks a remarkable milestone, particularly in the Tanzanian healthcare landscape.
The implementation of the SafeCare programme has motivated staff to continually pursue excellence. This initiative not only elevated the healthcare services, but also set a ground-breaking precedent in the Tanzanian healthcare sector by attaining the highest international standard through its collaboration with the Joint Commission International (JCI).
SafeCare offers numerous benefits such as sustainable progress on healthcare infrastructure standards, ongoing enhancements in quality, a continually evolving integrated health system approach, and referrals facilitated by the Hub and Spoke model of care. Additionally, it fosters stronger strategic relationships across various regions of Tanzania, provides support for healthcare professionals’ capacity building through the OHCs, encourages increased collaboration between the OHCs and government hospitals, and ensures sustainability of AKHST programmes through heightened patient volumes and improved outcomes.
About Aga Khan Health Services:
Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) is one of three agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) that supports activities in health care, together with the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and the Aga Khan University (AKU). Working to address today’s greatest health challenges in low-and-middle-income countries, the three agencies of the AKDN provide high-quality, equitable healthcare to over eight million people annually and work closely on planning, training, and resource development. Operating under the Aga Khan Development Network, Aga Khan Health Service in Tanzania has experienced substantial growth over a span of nine decades, serving as a compelling testament to our dedication to healthcare and development within the nation. Presently, AKHS facilities are renowned for their adherence to ethical standards, innovative approaches, and the delivery of top-notch, safe and evidence-based healthcare services. Our hub and spokes model, with one hospital here in Dar es Salaam, a medical centre in Mwanza and 26 outreach centres across 14 regions of the country, has enabled our institutions to increase access to affordable quality health services, as well as to work closely with the government and other partners across the health spectrum.
The SafeCare standards are designed to help bridge the gap between today and a better tomorrow, bringing healthcare quality and patient safety to new levels. Built upon the Donabedian Model of healthcare quality, the SafeCare standards evaluate the structures and processes that guide the delivery of healthcare services.