Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

19 September 2012

Rwanda: Accreditation System to Improve Health Care

The ministry of health yesterday launched a new system to enforce international standards in Rwanda's hospitals, in a move aimed at improving health care services provided to clients.

Though it is noticed that people working in health facilities have made a great effort over the years to be better, but health officials say a better way to attain the greatest achievement implies working under certain guidelines.

"It's for sure that the customer care in health facilities has improved, but you can't be better against yourself," pointed out Agnes Binagwaho, the Health Minister. "We need to be better against a standard - and the standard is 'accreditation'."

The minister was talking to journalists during the launch of "an accreditation system for improving health outcomes" - a tool that will serve as a guideline to assess health care services compared to international standards. The system has been operational in the country for two years and will be used to assess health facilities up to district hospitals level.

So far, the minister noted, only King Faisal Hospital has already accredited, It will be assessed again in the future because the exercise has to be continual to make sure that the services remain at international level.

"Accreditation is not done once forever, but it's a day to day work," explained the minister.

CHUK, CHUB and Kanombe Military Hospital have also started journey towards accreditation.

The minister explained that the assessment will be based on two main criteria namely infrastructure - improving the place where the care is given; and health quality service that involves professional practices in taking care of clients.

However, some head of hospitals expressed their worries on the issue regarding infrastructure, but the minister told them their issues will be solved as they go economically.

To implement the system, the ministry has recruited an international firm that will help to reach the level regarding all those protocol administrative guidelines in terms of infrastructure and behavior of the health professional which are the key tools to attain at the level of the care needed to give to the population.

"We need to be welcoming, to be warm to the clients with respect and listen to and give them the attention they deserve," said Binagwaho.

For the minister, this new way of working will help them boost their outcomes as it has been even before. She was referring to the recent greatest achievement of the UN's fourth Millennium Development Goal, which is committed to improving children's health care.

"We can even achieve a lot," she pointed out. "It's a matter of mindset change, change habit, and be more organized."

Those who will not comply with the new system, Binagwaho warned, will leave the place to those who are keen to move on; though she remains confident that they don't expect such cases of failure.

"There is an obligation to fulfill standards," she said. "We can confront with these standards those who will not be doing so."

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