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Govt to award best hospitals

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EZULWINI- In a bid to improve health care service delivery in the country, the Ministry of Health has initiated a programme to award health facilities that excel.

To be known as the Quality Assurance Health Awards Programme, the initiative was launched by Minister Benedict Xaba on Wednesday night at the Royal Swazi Sun Convention Centre.

The awards were launched under the theme ‘Striving for excellence in health with partners and community participation.’

Also present during the event were the ministry’s strategic partners: parliamentarians, health workers and representatives of private companies, including some from South Africa.

In his speech, Xaba said such a programme would be the starting point to improving the provision of health care and enable the country to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals.

"We believe that through this programme most challenges in service delivery will be addressed. The quality assurance programme is aimed at ensuring that the health sector provides high standard quality care," said the minister.

Xaba said quality assurance defines the standards for the different levels of service delivery ensuring that it brings about customer satisfaction.

"As a sign of our commitment we have introduced customer care officers in all our facilities with the intention of improving health service delivery," he said.

The minister said improved service delivery would be set in motion to help attain His Majesty King Mswati III’s vision of Swaziland becoming a first world nation.

About the theme, he said "It stipulates that the health sector cannot work alone in the provision of quality health service delivery but your participation cannot be overemphasised."

He said the ministry cannot fulfil its mandate without the involvement of the health clients and private sector. The minister called upon companies that were represented to partner with the ministry by pledging to support the awards that will be hosted annually.

"We are aware that quality management activities are labour-intensive, requiring efficient and effective use of resources that include qualified and competent personnel in the right numbers, adequate equipment and supplies, policies and procedures," he said.

This, he said, is over and above appropriate infrastructure.

On the end of the night one unidentified company had pledged to sponsor the awards with hospital equipment worth over E400 000.

Not to be outdone were Mduduzi and Emagawugawu, who pledged to perform at the ministry’s roadshows as it sensitises the public on its quality assurance programme. The gathering was also told that The Times of Swaziland had also pledged to partner with the initiative.

 

Ministry delegation in SA to improve referral of patients

EZULWINI- A seven-man delegation from the Ministry of Health has travelled to South Africa to meet their counterparts in order to improve the referral of patients under the Phalala Fund.

The departure of the delegation comes after the minister, Benedict Xaba, revealed that at one point the fund had spent over E3 million in one day for referrals. He said this during the launch of the Quality Assurance Health Awards Programme on Wednesday night.

"Currently we are facing challenges with referrals and in one instance we spent over E3 million referring patients to our neighbours," said the minister. He said his South African counterpart has pledged to help address the high referral costs.

"The (South African) minister has also set up a task team that will assist us in reducing the costs of referrals," said Xaba.

He said the introduction of the quality assurance programme was one way of reducing the expenses related to referrals.

"The current situation is not acceptable and that is why we are doing our best to reduce the costs of referrals through the public/private partnership," he said.

Patients to grade health care services

EZULWINI- Patients will now have the opportunity to grade the quality of health care services they receive in local health facilities.

This was revealed by the Minister of Health Benedict Xaba on Wednesday night when launching the Quality Assurance Health Awards Programme.

Xaba said the public will be responsible for voting for the eventual winners of the awards.

He said the ministry will, "strive to be the best in issues of customer care."

"Patients at the OPD (out-patient department) will evaluate us and that information will be used in identifying the winner.

The public will be responsible for voting for the winners of each category," he said.

The minister said the programme will address the numerous challenges that the country’s health facilities are faced with, including queues.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative Dr. Owen Kaluwa also emphasised the importance of the programme in service delivery.

"The programme is one of the key pillars of a successful health system and health care delivery programme," he said.

He also said "Health service providers need to operate within an appropriate policy environment for quality and with a proper understanding of the needs and expectations of those they serve, in order to deliver the best results."

Quality of health care services increases to 80%

EZULWINI- The quality of health care services provided by 18 health facilities in the country increased from 40 per cent to 80 per cent in three years.

This was part of the results of a pilot quality assurance exercise that was initiated in 2007.

According to the Southern Africa Human Capacity Development (SAHCD) Country Director, Dr. Jonas Chanda, the country has taken considerable strides in changing service delivery in the health sector despite the challenges.

Dr. Chanda was speaking during the launch of the Quality Assurance Health Awards Programme by the Ministry of Health on Wednesday night.

"Swaziland has struggled to provide quality and access to health care services. This, coupled with the impact of HIV and AIDS on the population and the concomitant burden on service providers, has created a greater strain on the already poor quality of health care being provided," said Dr. Chanda.

He highlighted that the baseline study initiated in 2007 to determine the quality of health care services in the country has yielded positive results."Three years down the line and after intensive post-baseline performance management visits, most health facilities have moved to an overall score of 80 per cent and above," he said.

 

This improvement is from less than 40 per cent previously, which is described as ‘a crucial point of measurement and any facility scoring below this is in critical state of delivery that needs urgent attention.’

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